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REVIEWED: extendedPDF, AbiWord, Gaim f Rhythmbox, Totem Movie Player 

Can Anyone 
Use Linux? 

Q&A with Mango Parfait 

Two KDE Konqueror 

• Linking For Newbies 

• A Comprehensive Guide for the Power User 

The First and only Magazine for the New linux user 

ISSUE 2 MAY 2005 



MAY 2005 


2 Can Anyone Use Linux? 


5 Viva La Linux Desktop 


7 Letters 

13 Q&A with Mango Parfait 



16 Movies and More — Life 
with Xine 



21 The Cuts and Pastes of Productivity 



25 Linking Users with Their Data 


28 Be the Master of All You 
Survey: Using Konqueror 
for File Management and 


34 All about Screensavers, and 
Why You Want to Run Them 


37 Going Guru: Michael's Top 
GIMP Tips 



48 The Light and Dark Side of 
Linux Multimedia 




Adding PDF Power to 


w> (^ f extended PDF configuration 

Configuration file Setting 

PDF Settrnqo 

fv Show link boxes 

Link bo* colour 

HDi-openviaw |Dookmarks 

42 leBook; medium c 


Capsule Reviews 

• AbiWord 

• Gaim 

• Rhythmbox 

• Totem Movie Player 






Music Edit 


3W Control He 

Atomic Sky 

from Dancetaria 




J 1 


Can Anyone Use Linux? 

Who's afraid of the big bad Linux? Surprisingly, 
it's Windows Power Users, that's who. But, nobody 
should fear Linux. Phil Hughes explains why Linux 
should be compelling to everyone. 


The biggest issue preventing Linux from taking 
over the desktop is not a lack of availability of 
applications programs, hardware requirements 
or anything technical. The biggest obstacle 
is fear. 

The funny thing is that it tends to be the 
more knowledgeable people who have this 
fear. That is, those who consider themselves 
Windows Power Users are more likely to be 
afraid of Linux than a relative newcomer 
to computing. 

Let me offer an example. When I was first 
living in Costa Rica, my neighbor asked me if 
his maid, Rosa, could use my computer to 
check her e-mail. Rosa speaks no English, and 
her computer experience has been limited to 
using systems in Internet cafes. Her e-mail 
account is on Yahoo and, thus, is Web-based. I 
told him, sure, and he and Rosa came over to 

try things out. 

Rosa looked at me and asked if "it" was in 
Spanish. I told her it was. (Different KDE logins 
can be in different languages, and I had a 
guest login set up in Spanish.) That was the 
last question she asked. She sat down and 
used Konqueror, the KDE browser, to do what 
she had done in an Internet cafe. 

This example is not atypical. In fact, ten- 
year-old kids who have never used a computer 
before are very happy to sit down, run Tux 
Paint or Potato Guy and use the system. 
Telling them that this is a Linux system just 
gets me the same blank stare as if I had said 
SCSI disks tend to be more reliable than 
IDE disks. 

Now, what about that power user? 
Although I hear all sorts of concerns from 
Windows Power Users, virtually all of them 



Phil Hughes, 


EDITOR IN CHIEF Nicholas Petreley 
ART DIRECTOR Garrick Antikajian, 

For Editorial inquiries, please write to 


Carlie Fairchild, 





206-782-7733 ext. 4, 

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digital edition of TUX or for information about banner 
and text advertising on the TUX Web site, please visit 



For immediate information about subscribing, 
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A privately held company, SSC Publishing is the leading 
Linux and Open Source authority, publishing reference 
materials in these fields since 1983. Properties include,,,, and the monthly international print 
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Additional information can be found 
All product and company names featured in this 
publication may be trademarks or registered 
trademarks of their respective holders. | 5 

boil down to "it's different". Well, 
that's true — unless you come from a 
UNIX background. That likely explains 
why Linux is taking over the Web serv- 
er business, where UNIX was the de 
facto standard. 

Most of these differences to the 
Windows Power User are "on the 
inside". That is, the changes in the 
user interface are not large issues. 
Anyone who has been using desktop 
computers for a few years knows 
changes happen as part of the natural 
evolution of the desktop. 

Rather than try to explain those 
inside differences, let me justify them. 
Many of those differences are the rea- 
sons behind the following: 

■ Linux is much less likely to be 
damaged by viruses and worms. 

■ Linux offers the user a choice of 
desktop environments. 

■ Linux offers user-level protection 
from mistakes of other users. 

■ Linux supports interoperability with 


many other types of systems. 

I have been told that Linux is hard 
to install. It turns out that the majority 
of the people who told me that had 
never installed any operating system 
on a computer. That is, the computer 
came from the store with some version 
of Windows installed. If there was a 
problem, they brought the computer 
back to the store. Or, they got their 
brother-in-law or son to re-install 
the software. 

The good news is that stores will sell 
you a computer with Linux pre-installed. 
Better still, you can choose which 
"brand" of Linux you want installed. 
Different Linux distributions offer differ- 
ent levels and types of support. 

Sure, some are free and some cost 
money. Once again, that's choice. If 
you (or your brother-in-law) are capa- 
ble of doing your own support, great. 
The free versions might be perfect 
for you. If not, you have a lot of 
other choices. 

Adoption of Linux on the desktop 
seems to be happening faster outside 
the US than inside. I see multiple con- 
siderations driving this trend. 

The first is economics. Today, it 
costs more to buy a commercial oper- 
ating system, office suite and all the 
other programs you need than it costs 
to buy the computer itself. People and 
companies just can't afford these 
prices. If you don't consider Linux as a 
solution, you are left with few alterna- 

tives. You can steal the software or do 
without. Or, you can find an alterna- 
tive you can afford, such as Linux. 
When I lived in Costa Rica, I saw indi- 
viduals, companies and government 
pick Linux as the best way to address 

Although economics certainly play 
into government decisions in Brazil 
and Germany, there are other reasons 
why Linux is attractive. Reliability, 
mostly in the form of immunity to 
viruses and worms, is one big advan- 
tage Linux has over the competition. 
So is maintaining control. That is, with 
Linux, the consumer has much more 
control over what to upgrade and 
when to upgrade. For example, com- 
mercial software companies often 
require you to purchase and install 
a new version of their software to 
address problems with the current 
version. This is a costly, risky and 
complicated solution. If the company 
uses Linux, it could elect to install a 
patch to their systems to address the 
problem instead. 

Finally, I see a different attitude that 
helps promote Linux more than com- 
mercial alternatives in other countries. 

In the US, advertising is a significant 
factor driving purchasing decisions. If 
you don't believe that, look at the 
fast-food industry. The biggies in this 
field don't necessarily make better 
hamburgers — it is just that brand 
recognition herds people to their 

Where I live, word of mouth is the 
most important factor in getting mar- 
ket share. For example, more than 
50% of the vehicles in this area are 
Toyotas. This isn't because Toyota 
has a big advertising campaign; it 
is because people talk about their 
vehicles, and Toyota has come out 
way above the alternatives. 

This doesn't necessarily mean that 
a Toyota pickup is better than a 
Mitsubishi. It simply means that the 
local perception is that a Toyota is 
better than a Mitsubishi, and that 
perception comes from the personal 
experience people have with Toyotas. 
Even a big advertising campaign by 
Mitsubishi would be unlikely to 
change the minds of more than a 
few people here. 

Linux word of mouth tends to be 
very positive. It just doesn't take a lot 

of people saying "Linux solved my 
problems and it cost less than the 
alternatives" before you see people 
giving it a serious look. 

For those who are still afraid, you 
can take the Linux plunge without 
even loading it on your computer. 
Multiple Linux distributions will run 
directly from your CD drive. They 
will be much slower than if Linux 
were loaded onto your hard disk, 
but it may be a good way to address 
your fear. 

The most popular choice is Knoppix. 
You can find out about it on the Web 
index-en.html. Knoppix is a noncom- 
mercial choice you can try without 
installing anything. Commercial Linux 
vendors also offer live evaluations for 
free. Novell offers a live evaluation CD 
for its SUSE distribution. Go to 
index.html and search for "live eval". 

So, in conclusion, I think anyone 
can use Linux. But, you don't have to 
take my word for it. There are free and 
easy ways to try it out for yourself. ■ 

Phil Hughes is Group Publisher for SSC Publishing, Ltd. H- 


Viva La Linux Desktop Revolution 

Prepare for the Linux desktop revolution. It's happening now, and I have evidence to prove it. 


The jury will please turn its attention to the evidence marked 
Exhibit 1 . I just finished a monster of a report for Evans Data 
Corporation. This report was an analysis of data collected from 
every imaginable type of Linux developer. Now I know that 
many, if not most of you reading this right now, aren't likely to 
be programmers, let alone Linux application developers. But, 
the survey data was packed with information that even the 
most unexperienced amateur of Linux should know. Evans 
wants to sell this report, so I can't give away all the juicy 
details. However, I can tell you enough general information 
that should surprise and delight you. 

If there is one bit of data in the report more than any 
other that should raise eyebrows, it is the fact that the 
respondents named Linux as the best operating system for 
personal desktop productivity. In case you're not up with 
the journalist lingo, that means they said it's better than 
Windows as an easy-to-use desktop for getting your work 
done. Granted, Windows ranked a very close second, and 
the difference fell within the margin of error. But the last 
time we asked a question even remotely similar to this one 
(about a year ago), Linux hardly showed up as a blip on the 
radar. For years, these respondents chose Linux as the best 
operating system for everything but personal productivity. 
Until this survey, respondents believed that when it comes 
to Web browsing, writing documents, working with spread- 

sheets, exchanging e-mail, managing your calendar and all 
the rest of the things people do, it was all Windows, 
Windows, Windows. Linux not need apply. 

Admittedly, the people who responded to this survey are 
technical people, not home users or nontechnical office 
workers. But aside from the fact that there has been a sud- 
den change in their perception of Linux as a platform for 
personal productivity, there's data in the survey that shows 
they believe home users and office workers will be adopt- 
ing Linux on the desktop too. 

There are many other results in the survey that support 
this conclusion, but I'll leak only a little more information; 
otherwise, Evans Data is likely to put bamboo shoots under 
my fingernails, drill my teeth with no anesthetic or worse, 
make me attend a Britney Spears concert. 

For the first time, developers are writing more applications for 
Linux than they are for Windows. More important, a significant 
percentage of the applications they are writing represent 
graphical applications for the desktop. Past surveys indicated 
that they used Linux almost exclusively for writing server 
applications, with very little interest in addressing the desktop 
market. The inference should be obvious. If developers are 
working on desktop applications, they must believe now more 
than ever that they can sell them. 

Okay, enough of Exhibit 1 . If the jury will now please 

turn its attention to the evidence 
marked Exhibit 2, which happens to 
include a shameless plug for a book I 
co-wrote with a fellow named Jono 
Bacon. The book is called Linux 
Desktop Hacks, and if it isn't on the 
shelves now, it will be soon. This book 
is published by O'Reilly, which, if you 
know the publishing industry, would 
tell you that O'Reilly expects people to 
buy it. No book idea is a sure thing, 
but O'Reilly has a good record for iden- 

written primarily for Linux users with 
varying levels of technical expertise, 
from competent amateur to expert 
hacker (although some of the hacks 
probably are easy enough for grandma 
too). So even though I encourage you 
to look at it, I won't be offended if 
many TUX readers find it too technical 
to be useful. (Of course, you could buy 
it for some technical person you 
know — okay, okay, enough of that, 
I promise.) 


tifying a market and publishing books 
that sell into that market. 

You also should know that the Linux 
Server Hacks book is one of their best- 
selling books. But now O'Reilly believes 
there is enough of a Linux desktop 
market that a book on Linux desktop 
hacks should be successful. (And, it will 
be if you all run out and buy it the 
moment it hits the shelves — hint, hint.) 

Seriously, Linux Desktop Hacks is 

Now if the jury will please turn its 
attention the evidence marked Exhibit 
3. Just ask yourself the question, what 
does Linux lack at this point? KDE, the 
most popular graphical desktop, has 
features Windows could only hope to 
have — and I mean hope, because some 
of the features Microsoft would never 
dare implement. For example, you can 
pop an audio CD into your CD-ROM 
drive, open up a Konqueror window 

and create MP3 files of all the songs on 
that CD with a simple drag-and-drop 
operation. Microsoft, on the other 
hand, is a toadie for the music industry 
and is therefore working hard to pre- 
vent you from doing things like that, 
lest you create an MP3 file in order to 
break a copyright. 

We have, an office 
suite with all the features people actually 
use. If you don't like, 
there are other free and commercial office 
suites from which to choose. I daresay 
that we Linux users have more office soft- 
ware to choose from than Windows users, 
because Microsoft virtually has eliminated 
all the competition. And, when I absolutely 
must use a program like Microsoft Word 
(some publishers insist upon it), I run it on 
Linux with either Crossover Office 
( or Win4Lin 

In summary, dear jury, I suggest you 
prepare for the Linux desktop revolu- 
tion. It's happening now. Trust me — 
you want to be a part of it.a 

TUX Editor in Chief Nicholas Petreley is an author, 
consultant, programmer, award-winning columnist 
and Linux analyst for Evans Data Corp. B 


MS Bashing? 

First off, I wanted to thank the whole TUX team 
for putting together this magazine. I think this 
publication is going to be a great tool/resource for 
me and the rest of your subscribers. There wasn't 
an article that I couldn't take something away 
from. Keep up the good work! 

My only complaint was the blatant and needless 
MS bashing in the opening editorial. Linux stands 
up well enough on its own without the need to 
stoop down to Microsoft's level with all the FUD 
slinging. I would think that people in this industry 
understand that there are choices and that not 
every option is best suited to every scenario. I 
have many PCs at home, all but one run Linux, 
and I wouldn't have it any other way. 


We at TUX consciously avoid bashing Microsoft in 
our articles. Our job is to promote Linux, however, 
and even more importantly it's our passion to pro- 
mote Linux. Sometimes, it is important in an article 
to point out the ways in which Linux is superior to 
its most visible competition, Windows. This can 
sometimes be misinterpreted as Windows bashing, 
but it is simply addressing an important fact the 
reader should know. Although, I can tell you it's 
our goal to stay away from "bashing" in general. 

Obviously, opinion columns are not subject to the 
same rules, because everything in the column is 
the author's opinion, with which readers are free 
to agree or disagree. 

Thanks again for your input, and we hope you 
continue to enjoy the magazine! — Ed. 

Help with International Characters 

First things first, a big thank you for such a timely 
magazine. The stuffs are great, and I am still try- 
ing to finish reading your site and the down- 
loaded PDF (another great) file. 

I was a little disappointed in the Web article 
"Entering International Characters", though. 
I am hoping to understand how to input cjk 
characters in a mostly English document, for 
example, Mr so and so, who happens to be 
Japanese/Korean/Chinese, with the rest of the 
document in English. 

I am using SUSE 9.2 (5 CD) and had to surf the 
Net for weeks but to no avail. In fact, I had found 
that many people are asking the same question, 
but it seems like nobody takes notice. Any chance 
of a small article to explain this little trick? Again, 
a million thanks for the great stuffs! ! 


ShortKeys for Linux? 

First off, thank you for TUX magazine. I have 
my electronic subscription and love it. Thank 
you very much. 

As a Windows refugee, most of the MS pro- 
grams I used are a distant memory; however, 
there is one I miss and would really like to see 
either ported to Linux or mimicked. That pro- 
gram is ShortKeys. It is simple. I set up the key 
shortcuts and it types the word for me. As an 
example, if I want to type my company name, 
MobileMaster of Austin, with ShortKeys, all I 
have to type is mmm, and it happens. I have 
looked at khotkeys but not only is it very com- 
plex, there seems to be some real problems 
with the software. I have been in contact with 
the author of ShortKeys, and he has told me 
he has no interest in Linux. Is there anything 
comparable in Linux? Can you help? 

Ken Starks 

We will forward this question to Mango Parfait, 
the author of our new Q&A column, Q&A with 
Mango Parfait. It was too late to get it to her 
for this issue, but perhaps she'll elect to address 
it in a future issue. — Ed. 7 

Thanks TUX 

I just wanted to say that you guys at TUX maga- 
zine are doing a great job. It's nice finally to see a 
magazine tailored to the new Linux user. I also like 
the fact that it keeps the Linux spirit and is free to 
anyone that wants it. It has a nice format; it's very 
professional looking, and I also think it's a great 
idea for the issues to be on-line. Keep up the 
great work guys, I hope to read more! 

On a side note, I think it would cool to see some- 
thing on the different methods of installing pro- 
grams. I mean, there's dependencies, .rpm files 
and .deb files just to start off with. And maybe 
something on the future of installing programs on 


Congratulations, But... 

I would like to congratulate you on your first edi- 
tion, it was a change to see basic straightforward 
articles rather than those that start of showing 
you the latest development program assuming 
that all Linux users are developers. 

But (you knew there was a but coming), I found it 
very heavy going reading it on-screen. I don't 
know if articles I have read on-line in the past 
have been "lightened" text-wise to make it easier 
to read, but yours is more of a magazine that has 
been put on-line. Sorry if that sounds like stating 
the obvious. 

I will eagerly await the next issue with anticipation 
Tim Henley 


Thanks for the new on-line edition of TUX. I think 
that it's a great concept. As I was browsing 
through the magazine, I noticed that the articles 
covered were for software designed for the KDE 
environment. While I think that this is a good 
idea, it would be great if there was more balance 
in covering the software for those users that use 
Linux desktop environments other than KDE (such 
as GNOME). While it is true that much KDE-ori- 
ented software will work with GNOME, it is still a 
good idea to have articles for those of use who 
are using the GNOME desktop environment. 


Our authors are instructed to include GNOME- 
related information whenever it is useful, and we 
will certainly print some GNOME-centric articles. 
The fact is, however, that KDE has the largest 
market share, and that means the majority of our 
readers probably use KDE most, or use only KDE. 
That is the reason for our emphasis on KDE. — Ed. 

For the Average Joe 

I personally would like to thank you for providing 
a magazine for the average joe. I used to love 
Maximum Linux and was distraught when it 
ended. I have been looking forward to a new gen- 
eral-user Linux mag since. 

I have been using Linux on and off for a few 
years now (since Mandrake 7.0). Generally, I try 
each new release for a while, decide it's not quite 
up to snuff yet, then go back to Windows. 
Finally, with Mandrake 10.0, I seem to be able to 
settle in with Linux. Linux seems VERY close to 
being a complete Desktop OS. 

As a small home-business owner (just starting up), I 
am very interested in keeping Linux for my business 
needs (for cost and security reasons). For the most 
part, I am happy. I run, Mozilla and 
Nvu (kind of slow) for my general office and Web 
design stuff, and I use Cadsoft's Eagle Schematic and 
PCB layout package for my design work. As you can 
see, I am very careful to pick software applications 
that are available for both Windows and Linux. I pur- 
chased a copy of Netraverse's Win4Lin 5 and 
installed an old copy of Windows 98— VERY nice! ! ! ! 
It works very well for the various software items that 
I can't find for Linux — mainly QuickBooks, Avery 
Label Software and TurboCad. 

Sorry for the above monologue. The main reason 
for this e-mail is to request a topic. An article on 
using Linux for a small business would be great. I 
have had quite a bit of trouble finding information 
on accounting packages and how they compare to 
the Windows equivalents. My personal main inter- 
ests are accounting software, voice-mail/Fax soft- 
ware, Web design software and label software. 

Craig Lindholm S 


Let me start by thanking you. This magazine is fill- 
ing a very important void. As the "driver, not 
mechanic"-type Linux user you're targeting, I have 
found a dramatic lack of information I can use. I'm 
lucky not to have been told too many times to 
"RTFM", but most the manuals and articles I've 
read require a background knowledge that I'm hav- 
ing to fight to build for myself. I'm really looking 
forward to a "normal-user"-oriented magazine. 

I wanted to suggest an article idea. The variety of 
Linux distros available can be pretty overwhelm- 
ing. Everyone I talk to has a preference, though 
not many can tell me why they prefer this over 
that. How about an article describing what the 
differences are at the user-level. There is plenty of 
information on Knoppix and Ubuntu being 
"Debian-based", while Mandrake evolved from 
Red Hat for instance, but I have no idea what 
that means. I'm interested in a few paragraphs 
on each of six to ten different distributions telling 
me what differences I'll see in them that would 
make me prefer one over the other. 

Another article I'd love to see is a how-to list (cheat 
sheet?) including how to install a .tar application, 
how to find and use CD burning software, and 
other everyday activities that most computer people 
take for granted. In making the transition from 
Windows to Linux, all of that changes somewhat. A 
concise list of the most commonly performed tasks 
and how to do them in a Linux environment would 

be really helpful. I hope these are useful to you, and 
thanks again for setting up the magazine. 

Donovan Hoggan 

Thanks for your input. We are discussing how to 
create cheat sheets like the ones you suggested, 
and whether or not to publish them separately or in 
TUX. We will also do what we can to schedule an 
article that sorts out the differences between distri- 
butions and puts the information in layman's terms. 
See next issue for an article on CD burning — Ed. 


Just wanted to write a quick note to say that I 
really enjoyed the first issue. I am only about three 
months new to Linux and have been enjoying my 
new Microsoft-Free environment throughly. 

In future issues I would love to see more articles 
on GNOME-based applications rather than strictly 
"K"-based ones. Or, just have authors clearly 
specify that the "application is installable and 
usable under the following desktops: GNOME, 
KDE and so on." Additional topics I'd love to see 
covered would be how to sync the PocketPC with 
Linux; running a Linux distro on the PocketPC (yes, 
I know, kind of advanced for newbies); and more 
reviews and info of Linux-based devices like 
Pepper (for example, the Sharp Zaurus). Best of 
luck with the new publication! ! 


The New Cell Processor 

I'd like to see an article on the new cell processor pro- 
duced by Sony, Toshiba and IBM. The article would 
start out something like this: "The new cell processor 
processes graphics ten times faster than the best 
Pentium. IBM says it will incorporate the chip in a 
new workstation later this year. Wonder which oper- 
ating system. Could it be Linux? Is this the start of a 
new empire? Lincell instead of Wintel?" 

Ralph Paidock 


Bravo on your first issue! It was way more than I 
had hoped for! I now feel confident that I can 
switch my home PC over to Linux in the near 
future, except for two questions: 

1) How do I set up DSL on Linux? Could you put 
together a tutorial on that, along with some trou- 
bleshooting tips? I can't be isolated from the 
Internet for very long before I get the DTs! 

2) How do I set up printing? I have a Brother MFC 
6800 that I will probably have a hard time finding 
Linux drivers for. 

Maybe you can start a new column answering ques- 
tions like these from subscribers and call it something 
like, "Ask Dr Tux" (or something wittier). 

Thanks for the help. I showed a printout of your 
mag to the guys during our local Linux Users' 3 

Group meeting (, and they were 
impressed, too. I can't wait for the next issues, 
especially the one about personal finance s/w! 
Thanks once again — you guys are yet another 
example of the excellence I see all over the place 
in the Linux community! 

Bill Chaney 

Screensaver to Share 

I have created a Screensaver for Windows systems 
that will display a tutorial for Linux commands, and 
wish to share it with the world. I am going to use this 
tool at our school to beef up CLI knowledge, and am 
also sharing it with the world. This is the first version, 
and there will be more releases that will teach differ- 
ent objectives aligned with system administration. The 
address is The program is 
located in the news section (right above a link to your 
Web site). 


More Thanks 

I just finished reading (cover to cover) your first 
issue of TUX magazine. All I can say is Wow. I 
want to thank you for creating such a useful, pro- 
fessional and FREE e-zine. I appreciated the clear, 
jargon-free directions (which is often lacking in 
man pages). I especially enjoyed your look at The 
GIMP. I have spent years becoming (somewhat) 
proficient in Photoshop, so I have been reluctant 
to begin a new learning curve. Your article has 

convinced me to take another look at The GIMP, 
and I will be looking forward to future articles and 
collecting them for future reference. 

Although I have a few years of experience with 
Linux, I found useful tips throughout the maga- 
zine, even for programs I have been using for 
quite a while. 

You asked for suggestions for future articles, 
and I would like to request a simple look into 
securing a Linux box, from firewalls and network 
scanning tools to keeping up with security 
patches and updates. 

I also am running an Apache Web server, so info 
on configuring and securing Apache would be 
helpful for me. I realize that this may be a little 
more advanced than your average newbie will 
use, but perhaps a section of your mag for slightly 
more advanced users? Again, I would like to 
thank you all for your excellent publication. It is 
much more than I had hoped for. Keep up the 
great work. 

Michelle Blowers 

KAudioCreator Article 

I have just signed up, downloaded and printed 
out the TUX magazine — I can only say thank you. 
This is just what I have been looking for, I have no 
problem downloading and installing Linux distri- 
butions, but I have very little experience when it 

comes to using the system. Your magazine pro- 
vides me with some clear guidance. 

The first issue contains something that I need. I 
am trying to turn an old laptop into a music box 
for my camper van. Your piece about ripping with 
KAudioCreator has given me a big head start with 
my project [see "Rip Your Audio Files Down to 
Size with KAudioCreator" by James Gray, TUX, 
March 2005]. 

Paul Stephenson 

James Gray replies: that's terrific, thanks for 
letting me know. I had a great time putting the 
article together, and I'm so pleased it helped 
you, too. Good luck! 


I'd like to let you know about a new job-search 
site I recently developed that's dedicated to 
the Linux and Open Source community: 

The goal of TuxScout is to provide a comprehen- 
sive resource to job seekers and employers seek- 
ing to scratch their respective open-source itch- 
es. The site includes almost everything you'd 
expect of a modern system, such as a powerful 
and sophisticated search engine, discussion 
forums, news feeds, links to career resources 
and an updated calendar of Linux/open-source 
events. TuxScout is completely free to job seek- |1Q | 

ers and employers, which makes it a great 
resource for many small businesses looking to 
hire top Linux talent. 

I'd greatly appreciate it if you could support this 
effort by spreading the word in any way you can. 
The site is only a few days old and is just starting 
to gain some traction. With your help, TuxScout 
has the potential of being an employment hub for 
the entire Linux/Open Source community. 

Sharif Alexandre 

Ah f the Irony 

I find it quite ironic that you have used an 
advanced version of PDF for your Linux magazine 
that cannot be displayed by the versions of 
acroread that are available for Linux systems! 
I will have to try viewing the document with a 
Windows version of Acrobat Reader. I find this to 
be in extremely poor taste. 

Collins Richey 

If you try to read TUX with a browser and an 
Acrobat plugin, it will not display the magazine. 
We're not sure why the plugin fails. If you down- 
load the magazine as a PDF file and view it with 
the Acrobat 5, you will get a warning that some 
features may not be available. We do not use any 
features that aren't available, so it displays the 
magazine perfectly after you close the warning 
dialog box. 

By the way at the time of this writing, you can 
find version 7 of Acrobat Reader for Linux at the 
following FTP address: 
adobe/reader/unix/7x/7.0/enu. — Ed. 

Not PDF 

I originally began to sign up for a subscription 
when there was going to be a hard copy of TUX. I 
was disappointed that you decided not to go that 
route. But I thought I would give it a try with mis- 
givings. I don't have cable/broadband. In my area, 
getting 46k out of the connection is good. Trying 
to download anything that takes more than ten 
minutes is impossible due to flaky lines and 
bounces breaking the connection. So I just tried to 
look at the March issue. I can't get to it. There has 
to be a better or more diverse solution than PDF — 
if you don't want a hard copy, why not XML or 
HTML so at least those of us who would like to 
support/look/read it could do so? 


Bad Documentation? 

I just ran across your magazine today, and sub- 
scribed immediately. This is an excellent idea. I 
have concluded that a lot of programming 
genius is wasted because of bad or non-exis- 
tent documentation. I have tried a number of 
times to do, or find out how to do, things with 
GNU/Linux. Many times I have not been able to 
find out, I have found something and tried to 
run it and have had it not run at all, or I have 

run it and gotten a screen full of buttons that 
mean nothing. 

I like the idea of organizing things by tasks, 
such as, I want to burn a CD, or I want to sync 
my Palm Pilot — how do I do it? For me, person- 
ally, if I can get a foot in the door by finding 
out how to do some basic function, I can help 
myself to more. On the other hand, if I have to 
start from nothing, with no documentation and 
not even any idea of IF I can do something, or 
with a program that requires some obscure 
configuration, I just get nowhere. 

Steven White 

PDF Problems 

I just heard about, subscribed to and downloaded 
the March issue today. 

My first impressions of TUX magazine are awful. 

1) You FORCE OPEN the magazine in full screen 
and then lock down the PDF so I can't make the 
change to prevent this in the future. 

2) The dimensions are terrible. Stick with US Letter 
or A4, but stick to standards — so I can more easily 
print the darn thing. 

3) Even if you stick with the "screen-friendly" 
dimensions, the magazine is in LANDSCAPE 
mode (UGH!) Reading documents in landscape 11 

can only politely be described as awkward. 

And, I haven't even gotten to the content yet. 
If this is going to be your primary means of dis- 
tribution, you need to make the magazine 
friendlier to the people reading it and not 
assume that everyone will want to read your 
magazine only on-screen. Forcing someone to 
do something YOUR way is not in the spirit of 
Linux or Open Source and is certainly not going 
to keep me reading. 

Although the concept is sound, the execution is 
terrible. I'll be looking forward to improvements 
in future issues before I decide to cancel my 

Thanks for your time, efforts and consideration, 

Michael Potter 

Once the magazine expands to full screen, you 
can press Escape to get back to a window view. 
We are aware of some of the problems of pub- 
lishing in PDF format and we're working hard at 
solving them. — Ed. 

For Drivers 

Thanks for the Magazine for "drivers" of Linux. 
I am an emerging newbie in Linux and just 
love it. One thing I found was a frustration in 
terminology for the new user. Words like terminal 
and shell simply don't make sense to a common 

Windows user. I believe that it's this "technical" 
jargon (and not its use as it is actually easy to 
use) that makes the common computer user 
"afraid" of Linux. What we need is less Linux 
"mechanics" explaining the "how-tos" and more 
common users, former Windows users at that, 
telling the skinny on what is what in Linux. Once 
we build the terminology bridge to the Windows 
user, then we will see the converts start rolling 
across it. Linux gets better by the day, and I am 
very happy with it. It works; it's stable; despite my 
best efforts you can't break it! As they say 
though, perception is 9/1 Oth of reality. Your 
magazine will go a long way to helping tear 
down those false perceptions. 

Would love to see some more info on apps — 
Wine is a biggie! 

PS: Great look and feel to the magazine. The PDF 
was awesome in my new Adobe 7.0! 

Andrew Brown 

Need Help 

I enjoyed your first issue, especially the article on 
managing your desktop, assigning icons and so on 
[see "Customizing Your KDE Work Environment" 
by /Eleen Frisch, TUX, March 2005]. That was 
immediately useful, as I had Firefox as a nasty- 
looking script icon and my kids refused to use it! 
They're starting to use Linux (SUSE 9.1) now as 
I've made the icons and desktop background the 

same as what they had on XP. 

Anyhow, we really like our free games and games 
trials, and we're always downloading and trying 
stuff out on XP. So I thought, I bet there's loads of 
great stuff to play on Linux. But. ..what the heck is 
Open GL? What's configure, make, makefile, X1 1? 
Do I need to install compilers? It's not exactly an 
unzip and run install program is it? 

As with all things, I'm sure there's a straightfor- 
ward way to download games and play them 
without needing a certificate in UNIX scripting. 
Can you help/advise? 

Kieran Caulfield 

Great Design 

Just grabbed your first issue after seeing the ad in 
Linux Journal. Though I haven't had time to 
browse through all of your content, I'd like to 
quickly mention two things. 1) The design is gor- 
geous. It's nice, simple, friendly and clean. 2) 
You've done a nice job targeting your content. It's 
accessible to new desktop Linux users, but useful 
and informative to a more experienced user like 
myself. I look forward to future issues. I'm a bit 
bummed out by your decision not to offer a print 
edition at this time, but I'd like to say I would 
almost certainly subscribe were you to offer one 
again in the future. 

Mike Baehm 15 


with Mango Parfait 

Mango Parfait introduces herself, answers her own questions with astounding facility and invites 
you to ask her your own questions. Don't be shy. There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. 


Hi. My name is Mango Parfait, or Mango- 
Pafe in my native language. The publisher 
of TUX wisely hired me to answer any 
questions you have about Linux. Ask any- 
thing about using Linux, installing Linux, 
how to fix things when they don't work 
in Linux and anything else. In fact, feel 
free to ask me anything at all — except my 
age. That's not polite. 

I will try to answer as many questions 
as possible, but I humbly apologize in 
advance that I cannot answer questions 
by e-mail and that some questions may 
not make it into this column. I'm a busy 
girl, and there is only so much room in 
this magazine. 

Here are my qualifications. I started 
using Linux before Linus Torvalds even 
thought of it, so I know more than most 
of the dweeb boys I meet who gush all 
over me when they find out I use Linux. 

Eewww, guys, buy some Benzyl Peroxide 
and learn how to talk to a girl without 
using the word siskittle (how they pro- 
nounce the term sysctl) in every other 
sentence to try to impress me. 

Speaking of being a girl, let me warn 
you. If you don't think I can answer 
your questions because I'm a girl, you 
better not say that to my face. I'm a 
master of Jew Jitsu (a style of martial 
arts I picked up during my many visits to 
Israel, New York and Florida), and I 
won't hesitate to teach you a lesson in 
black and blue. And, I don't mean that 
I'll draw your picture with the graphics 
program called GIMP. Truly, GIMP will 
take on a whole new meaning when I'm 
through with you. 

If you do ask something I don't know, 
which is really not likely, it's only because 
I forgot. In that case, I have lots of 

friends to call who can help me. One of 
them is ex-boyfriend, Otaku, who builds 
and pilots huge fighting robots. I think 
he calls them Powerful and Humungous 
Aggressive Robot Thingies or something 
like that. Anyway, these PHARTs are pow- 
ered by super-computing Linux clusters. 
He not only wrote the programs to con- 
trol the huge fighting robot, he pro- 
grammed an artificial intelligence system 
that helps him pilot, helps him fix the 
robot after battles, gives him fashion 
advice and can answer questions about 
Linux that even he doesn't know. 

This being the first Q&A with Mango 
Parfait, I have no reader questions to 
answer yet. But, I still can answer ques- 
tions in this issue. Some of them are 
questions I hear all the time, and some I 
will just make up. [13 | 

Ql am a Windows user and I don't 
know anything about Linux. What 
is the easiest way for me to try it? — 
Saku Shamishou 

A There are some versions of Linux 
that you don't have to install in 
order to use them. They run right from 
the CD. Linux runs slower than usual if 
you run it from CD, but it is the easiest 
way to find out if Linux is for you. You 
can install most of these run-from-CD 
versions of Linux on your computer if 
you decide you like it. Then it will run 
much faster and you will have a lot 
more you can do. 

My favorite run-from-CD versions of 
Linux are MEPIS and Knoppix. You can 
find out more about MEPIS by visiting You can order 
a MEPIS CD from 
home.php for only $9.95 US. You can 
get MEPIS for free if you download a 
CD image file and burn your own 
MEPIS CD. If you are a beginner user, 
you may not know how to do that, so 
just send in your $9.95. It is easier and 
you get a much prettier CD than one 
you make yourself. 

You can find out more about 
Knoppix at 

The Web page comes up in German. 
Saku Shamishou doesn't sound like a 
German name (I know, because I made 
it up). So when you get to the Knoppix 
home page, click on the flag that rep- 
resents a language you understand, like 
English. I like to pick flags with lan- 
guages I don't understand. I like Polish, 
because it has all kinds of funny look- 
ing letters and words without any vow- 
els except maybe y, which can save you 
a lot of money if you play Wheel of 
Fortune on Polish TV. Russian looks 
even better, and all those backward let- 
ters in Russian makes me wonder if the 
language was created by a four-year- 
old. The Japanese site should be the 
best, but it isn't written in Japanese. It 
does have two fun Java applets, 

Scroll down to the bottom of the 
Knoppix home page. You will find a 
link where you can download Knoppix 
and make your own CD, and a link that 
takes you to a page with lots of stores 
where you can order a Knoppix CD and 
do a lot of other fun shopping while 
you're there. Knoppix is cheap. One 
store sells it for $3.95 US. 

Naturally, you need to know how to 
start up your computer with the CD 

instead of the hard drive. That's a good 
question, and some real person out 
there should ask it. 

By the way, if any of this sounds 
interesting, make sure you read the col- 
umn by the publisher Phil Hughes, 
"Can Anyone Use Linux?" (page 2). 


Which Linux distribution do you 
use? — Pittsa Feisu 

A I use many distributions. My favorite 
is Gentoo. Gentoo is not for begin- 
ners or for people who want their desk- 
top to be fast and responsive. It is for 
people who like to watch their computer 
compile software for hours and hours and 
hours, which is what slows down the 
desktop. (The desktop is fast if you don't 
compile programs when you use it.) I 
download the latest unstable Gentoo 
updates every day and watch my comput- 
er compile programs all night when I have 
insomnia. You risk making Gentoo unsta- 
ble when you update all the time. The 
most thorough way to cure the problem 
is to recompile the entire system from 
scratch. It takes days for Gentoo to com- 
pile everything. I like to watch all the 
compiler messages scroll off the screen 
day after day. It is hypnotizing. 1H- 

Q Which desktop do you recommend, 
KDE or GNOME?— Nakaguri 

A Definitely KDE. It is much prettier 
than GNOME. You can change 
anything about the way KDE looks, 
including the colors for every detail. I 
created a color theme for every outfit I 
own so that I am always color-coordi- 
nated with my desktop. GNOME does- 
n't let me do that, so I don't use 
GNOME unless I must. 

QWhen I open folders within folders 
in GNOME, it leaves the parent 
folders open and my screen gets clut- 
tered with lots of open folders. How can 
I prevent that? — Hakuchi Purogurama 

A There are at least three ways to 
deal with this problem. You can 
edit the GNOME registry to change the 
way folders work. You can right-click 
on a folder and choose Browse Folder 
from the menu, which opens a folder 
window that is easier to navigate. 
The third would be my favorite 
method. If you hold down the Shift key 

when you open a new folder, GNOME 
closes the old folder when it opens the 
new one. I said it would be my favorite 
method, not that it is my favorite 
method. I am happy to be delicate and 
feminine and want to remain so. I do 
not like to strain my finger by double- 
clicking everything. So I configure 
GNOME to let me open folders with a 
single mouse click like KDE. The Shift 
key trick doesn't work when GNOME 
opens folders with a single mouse click. 

Ql changed the clock on my KDE 
panel to a 12-hour format with 
AM/PM, but it doesn't work. It is still a 
24-hour clock. — Carlotta Tendant 

Alt works. You won't see the 
change until the KDE panel 
restarts. The next time you log in, you 
should see the new time format. 

QOkay, now I see it is in 12-hour 
format, but it doesn't show AM 
or PM .— Carlotta 

A You won't see AM/PM if your 
clock type is anything but a Plain 

clock. Digital, Analog and Fuzzy themes 
do not display AM/PM. Here's a trick to 
get around the problem and still use 
something other than the Plain clock. 
Your clock reads 1:00. Look outside. Is 
it light outside? If so, then it is either 
1 :00 PM, or you live somewhere very 
far to the north and it's summertime 
and you should really move to a place 
with a warmer climate where you get 
to wear shorter skirts. 

QAre you sensitive about anything 
else besides being patronized 
because you're a girl? — Macho Mann 

A Yes. I do not like the increasing 
invasion of our privacy. Did you 
ever notice how those maps in malls 
and other buildings mark a place that 
says "You are here"? How could 
they know that without secret hidden 

Mango Parfait is a Linux expert, and a cute one too; 
just ask her. If you want to ask her something she 
can answer for Q&A with Mango Parfait, send your 
questions to mango@tuxmagazine.conn. 15 


Movies and More — Life with Xine 

Everything you wanted to know about using the program Xine to watch DVDs on your 
Linux PC, plus lots of information for people who want to tap the hidden power of Xine. 


I'm a child of the sixties. I grew up with 
movies on late-night TV, at the drive-in, in 
the theatre, Super-8 home movies projected 
on a portable screen — movies everywhere. 
Well, not everywhere, but everywhere that 
counted. As I got older, movies migrated 
from late-night TV to video tape. Instead of 
depending on the whim of the local TV sta- 
tion, I could now go rent (and later, buy) a 
movie, and watch it on TV any time. Later 
still, movies transitioned to DVD and digital 
file format, and with the right hardware 
and software, I could even watch them on 
my computer. 

My laptop included a DVD drive, so the 
first major test of my Linux-based laptop 
was a movie. I went back to my roots, 
loaded a DVD of an old "spaghetti western" 
movie into my machine, sat back and re-lived 
a small bit of my youth. Since then, I've 
watched many movies on my laptop. In that 
time, I've tried a number of video applica- 
tions, and I always come back to the one 
I started with, Xine. 


So, what is Xine, anyway? Xine is an open- 
source multimedia player for UNIX-like sys- 
tems, including Linux. It can play a variety of 

video and audio media, including DVDs 
(assuming you have a DVD drive installed in 
your computer), CDs and VCDs, as well as 
video and audio media files in a variety of 
common formats, including MPEG, DIVX, 
Quicktime, Ogg Theora, Ogg Vorbis and 
WAVe. In other words, Xine is a very versatile 
audio and video multimedia player. 

You can start Xine from the command line 
(the program name is xine), but the usual way 
to start it is from a menu. You probably will 
find Xine in the Multimedia tab of your desk- 
top menu, labeled as a Video Player or 
Multimedia Player. 

The first time you start up Xine, you are 
presented with a multimedia control panel, a 
video window and a setup menu. The control 
panel is skinnable, and starts up in the xinetic 
theme. On this panel, which looks like the 
controls of a DVD player, you will find all the 
controls and information you need to view 
movies or listen to music. 

The video window is the screen on which 
the video (from your DVD, VCD or video file) 
or visualization effects (generated by Xine 
from your music) appears. It always starts up 
with the Xine logo, which is later replaced by 
the video content when you start playing your 
movie or listening to your music. 


Internet ► 


Multimedia ► 

CD Player 

Recording level monitor 


Office > 

Settings ► 

Sound Recorder 

$ System ► 

Totem Movie Player 


Toys ► 
Utilities > 

Volume Control 
Volume monitor 


Lost & Found ► 

Audio Mixer (Aumix) 


Find Files 


CD Player (KsCD) 



CD Ripper (KAudioCreator) 


Personal Files (Home) 


Camera Program (XCam) 
Media Player (Kaboodle) 



Quick Browser ► 
Find > 


Media Player (Noatun) 
Media Player (RealPlayer 10) 


Preferences ► 


Multimedia Player (XMMS) 


Print System ► 


Music Player (JuK) 
Recording Tool (KRec) 
Sound Mixer (KMix) 


Run Command... 


Lock. Screen 



Video Player (RealPlayer) 



Video Player (Xine) 

More Programs 


Figure 1. Starting Xine from the KDE Menu 


K - - 1 

UiLJiliiiiilfilllli Hi 


Onlfeio t BUBUuto 

DO |f VCD If DVD If DVB |f CD || | 

L - I ' I 

i 'IT" 

Figure 2. xinetic-Themed Multimedia Control Panel IB 

Home plate 


Figure 3. Xine Video Window 

= xmc 

gui audio 1 video 1 cixr3 1 infiut 1 codec 1 post 1 decoder 1 


Enable deinterlacinq bg default 

lie* ilcrldJLC_tj|f_dcfdiil L ( v ) 

C on fi gu ration experience level 

|D«|irintr ^J experlencejevel 

E liable DSD support 
[7 03ti_erBMed 

Dismiss OSD lime (a) 

| 3 tJ osajimeout 

P pla^anywajr 

\~ playtet_aito_reload 

|fflyr*jfili ^J poat_audio_plugn 
qui skin them* 

|Klnellc J*J tfjn 

(*) you nesd 1o restart Mtna for this s*timg to liJ» effect 

OK A|iply Quse 

Figure 4. Xine's Initial Setup Menu 

Finally, the setup window is where you 
customize Xine for your system. As a 
beginner, there's not much you can (or 
need to) change, and it is fine simply to 
click the Close button and dismiss the win- 
dow. If you feel like changing the setup 
options, you always can get the menu 
back with a mouse click on the Setup 
window icon in the multimedia control 
panel or by using a keyboard hot key. 

Once you've rid yourself of the setup 
menu, Xine is ready to go. From this point 
on, Xine does not show the setup menu 
unless you explicitly ask for it. 


Right from the start, Xine can play your 
DVDs and CDs and (for those of you with 
the technology) your VCDs. All you have to 
do is put your DVD, CD or VCD into the 
drive and click the corresponding button on 
the multimedia control panel. Xine loads 
the appropriate media driver and starts 
playing your media immediately. 

If hard plastic isn't your thing and you 
prefer your entertainment in files, Xine easi- 
ly can accommodate your needs. The Open 
Location button on the multimedia control 
panel launches a file selection window so 
that you can find and select the exact audio 
or video file you want to experience. 

Each file that you select from the Open 
Location window is added to a Playlist of 
files. This playlist can name files and some- 
thing that the Xine developers call Media 
Resource Locators or MRLs. These MRLs 
are like Internet URLs; they name a selec- 
tion by media and location. So, using the 


f VCD f DVD f DVB f CD 

F ' 

k. J 

.... I J 

Figure 5. xinetic Media Selection Buttons 

Figure 6. xinetic Open Location Dialog 

Working On The Radio (ISO) (102.1 Band - 45 Single) 


Scan fori 
r ^ 

/home/lpitcher/music/Streetband - Toast.mp3 







f Add 




/home/lpitcher/music/Streetband - Toast.mp3 



( Dismiss | 

Figure 7. xinetic Playlist Dialog 17 

Home plate 

Table 1 . Some Xine Command Keys 









Next chapter 

Page Down 

Previous chapter 

Page Up 


Left Arrow 


Right Arrow 


Up Arrow 


Down Arrow 

Reset speed 

Meta-Down Arrow 

Increase volume 


Decrease volume 


Mute volume 


Full screen 


Xinerama full screen 


Take snapshot 






Playlist, you can set up a continuous show of files, DVD 
chapters, CD tracks and network data streams. 

Valid MRLs include the names of local files, in your 
Linux system's path-naming style: 

■ file:<path_to_file> for input from a file. 

■ fifo:<path_to_fifo> for input of the output of another 

■ stdin:/ for input of the output of another program. 

■ dvd:/[<title>.<part>] for a DVD. 

■ vcd://[<CD-disk-image>|<device- 
name>][@[letter]<number>] for a VCD. 

■ cdda://<track-number> for an audio CD. 

■ mms://<host>... for input from a network MMS serv- 

■ http://<host>... for input from a network WEB service. 

■ tcp://<host>:<port> for input from a network service. 

■ rtp://<host>:<port> for input from a network service. 

■ udp://<host>:<portx?iface=interface> for input 
from a network service. 

The last three MRL formats are used to retrieve 
movies or music from Xine servers. As this implies, you 
can run Xine as a server and distribute your music and 
movie choices to a network for remote playback. It's all 
about control. You can control Xine's video and audio 
playback using keyboard hot keys, control panel buttons 
or control panel menus. Additionally, for video files, you 

can use your mouse to move between and select from 
the on-screen menu options. 

The control panel is fairly straightforward; playback 
controls are drawn using the universally accepted sym- 
bols for Play, Pause/Resume, Stop, Previous, Next and 
Eject. These controls work as you'd expect them to, both 
on physical media such as DVDs and CDs and on media 
files played from the playlist. This window is used for 
more than merely controlling the playback of your 
favourite movie or music. From here, you also can repo- 
sition playback using a slider; increase, decrease or mute 
the sound; speed up or slow down the video playback; 
take a snapshot of the contents of the video window; 
maximize the video window; hide the control panel; and 
quit Xine completely. 

From the control panel, you also have access to several 
of the Xine 
menus, like the 
Playlist, the Setup 
window, the 
on-screen menu 
navigator and 
the colour and 
skins control. 

Xine also 
provides a set of 
menus as alter- 
natives to the 
multimedia con- 
trol panel. If you 
right-click on 
the video win- 
dow, you get a 
primary menu 
that provides all 
the same con- 
trols as the 
control panel. 

[7 GUI visiblity 


Open t 
Rayback t 
Raylist *- 

Menus t 

|~~ Fullscreen/Window 


Settings t 





Figure 8. Xine's Primary Menu 1 

18 | 

Home plate 

Choose a skin to download... 
















Figure 9. Xine Skin Downloader 

Figure 10. xinetic Control Window for Skin Selection 

A left-click on the video window dismisses 
the menu. 

Most of the Xine controls can be execut- 
ed through the keyboard as well as the 
mouse. This makes it easy for you to con- 
trol the playback of your movie or music 
without interfering with the video portion 
of your entertainment. If the default key 
assignments don't suit your needs, you can 
change them to your own preference 
through the built-in key map editor. I've 
listed some of the handier keyboard com- 
mands in Table 1; there are more than one 
hundred keyboard commands, governing all 
aspects of Xine operation, and the table 
lists only a few of them. Did I mention 
skins? Actually, I did mention skins. Skins 
are components that, when installed, 
change the appearance of the Xine graphi- 
cal user interface (GUI). Xine has many 
different skins that can be downloaded 
and installed on demand. 

From the Settings entry in the Xine pri- 
mary menu, select the Skin Downloader 
option, and if you are connected to the 
Internet, Xine retrieves and presents a list 
of skins available for your use. As you 
scroll through the list, an example of the 
highlighted skin is shown in the preview 
window. When you find a skin you like, 
click the Load button, and the skin is 
downloaded and installed immediately. 

Once you have a collection of skins 
loaded, you can switch between skins with- 
out connecting to the Internet. From the 
multimedia control panel, select the Control 
button, or select the Video option from the 

Xine primary menu. Xine opens a multipur- 
pose window that allows you to adjust 
some of the video settings (Hue, Saturation, 
Brightness and Contrast) and select the skin 
you want Xine to use. Remember, from this 
window, you can select only a skin that you 
have downloaded previously, so don't panic 
if the window shows only the xinetic skin 
to start. 


You may need to change how Xine does 
things. This could be because it can't locate 
your DVD or CD reader, or because the play- 
back needs to be adjusted. In any case, you 
want to look at the Setup menu for all these 
sorts of adjustments. This is the menu we so 
casually dismissed when we first started Xine, 
and now we need to get it back with a click 
on the Setup window button. 

What Xine shows us in the Setup menu 
depends on our expertise level. The GUI tab 
of the Setup menu has a drop-down box list- 
ing the four expertise levels, ranging from 
Beginner to Master of the known universe, 
with levels in between. The Beginner level can 
adjust only certain superficial aspects of Xine: 
things like which visualization plugin to use 
for music or whether to use the Stereo 2.1 
audio decoder, or which region code to use 
for DVD decoding and playback. 

Advanced expertise gives you more control 
over the GUI and more audio parameters to 
tune. It also populates several tabs that are 
left empty in the Beginner level. From here, 
you can adjust some of the video parameters, 
as well as change the devices used for DVD, 13 

Home plate 

VCD and CD playback. 

With the Expert level, you can adjust 
the XVideo video overlay colour key value 
used by Xine to project video onto the 
Video window. This becomes necessary if 
you find that the video signal bleeds into 
other windows on your desktop. A change 
to the colour key here makes Xine select a 
different colour for the Video window 
background and prevents the video image 
bleed-through. Expert level also gives you 
the ability to specify the location of any 
Microsoft Windows DLLs that Xine can use 
to decode MMS media streams with. If left 
at its default, Xine looks in the 


Xine is not a monolithic application; it both 
includes other applications and can be 
included in other applications. For most 
users, the Xine package that came with 
your Linux distribution has everything nec- 
essary to view videos and listen to music. 
On the off chance that your distribution 
doesn't include or supply Xine, you can 
find it at The Xine user 
interface we've demonstrated isn't the 
only way to run Xine; a large number of 
alternate user interfaces also are available 
from, ranging from those 
specifically designed for KDE and GNOME 

open-source projects, including Iiba52, 
Iibmpeg2, various ffmpeg decoders, libmad 
and the FAAD Freeware Advanced Audio 
Decoder. Your Linux distribution or Xine 
package will include these packages 
among its libraries. Finally, you may find 
that you cannot play DVDs that have been 
"protected" with the Content Scrambling 
System. If this is the case, and you live in a 
jurisdiction that has not outlawed the 
Open Source CSS descrambling packages, 
you can download and install libdvdcss 
from and your CSS problems 
will be solved. 

The Xine user interface we've demonstrated isn't the only way to run Xine; a large 
number of alternate user interfaces also are available from, ranging 
from those specifically designed for KDE and GNOME to character-based ASCII art 
interfaces that do not need X and plugin interfaces for Web browsers. 

/usr/lib/win32 directory for all MMS 
codecs, and this might not be the correct 
directory on your system. 

Finally, Master of the known universe 
level gives you utter and complete com- 
mand of every tunable parameter that 
Xine offers. If you go this far, the effect of 
any change you make is between you and 
the Xine developers; most of these param- 
eters aren't meant to be changed by a 
casual user. 

to character-based ASCII art interfaces that 
do not need X and plugin interfaces for 
Web browsers. 

If you run Xine under the X window 
interface, you need to make sure that your 
X server supports either the XVideo exten- 
sion or at least supports the MIT-SHM 
shared-memory extension. Both the cur- 
rent and XFree86 X servers support 
these extensions. 

Xine uses software written by other 


So, like the hero in the movie, Xine saves 
the day for Linux multimedia users by giving 
them easy access to their movies and music. 
If your leading character is Xine, your movie 
enjoyment is virtually guaranteed. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to 
grab a bowl of popcorn and my laptop, 
and spend some quality time in Deadwood 
with "the man with no name".« 

Lew Pitcher is 
Canadian by birth 
and lives in 
Brampton, Ontario. 
He is a career techie 
working at a major 
Canadian bank. For 
more than 27 years, 
he's programmed on 
all sorts of systems, 
from Z80 CP/M 
home computers up 
to z/OS mainframes. 
Primarily, he designs 
z/OS MVS applica- 
tions for banking 
services and has 
incorporated Linux 
into his development 
environment. 5D 


The Cuts and Pastes of Productivity 

After a lesson on the bare basics of cut and paste, here's how to snip a piece of 
another application, like a spreadsheet, and embed it into another document 
where you can continue to treat the snippet as a spreadsheet. 

SCOTT STAHL is the mainstay productivity 
application of the Linux desktop. Proficiency in directly equates to productivity 
in professional life. The main components of consist of the Writer word 
processor, Calc spreadsheet and Impress pres- 
entation designer. This article demonstrates 
how to share information between the differ- 
ent applications starting from the simplest 
of editing. 

The most basic editing function is copying 
and moving text around in a document. The 
process of manipulating text is referred to as 
cutting and pasting, or copying and pasting. 
Cutting or copying and pasting of text is a sim- 
ple process. Here is the copy process in a nut- 
shell. Start up Writer and open 
a sample document. If you don't have any sam- 
ple documents, write a few paragraphs, even if 
they're just nonsense. 


Highlight some text that you want to copy or 
move. Here's how to highlight portions of a 

document, spreadsheet or what have you. 
Highlighting, or selecting text, is the way the 
user communicates to the computer what text 
to act on. You can highlight text with the 
mouse, keyboard or both. 

If you want to use the mouse, move the point- 
er to where you want to start the selection. Click 
and hold the left mouse button, then drag the 
mouse pointer over the text you want highlighted. 
The text turns black as you progress. It is impor- 
tant to note that you can drag the mouse forward 
or backward with equal facility. 

Keyboard highlighting is performed using 
the keyboard, of course. Position the cursor 
where you want to start highlighting. Use the 
arrow keys that are found on the lower right of 
nearly every PC keyboard in existence to move 
the cursor. Once the cursor is in place, hold 
down the left Shift key. We use the left Shift 
key simply because it is easier to use two hands 
for this operation. Now that the Shift is held 
down, use the arrow keys to move the cursor. 
The text will turn black as you progress. 

Keyboard highlighting has some neat short- 

cuts for quickly selecting text. Hold down the 
Ctrl and Shift keys while you move the cursor 
with the arrows in order to select entire words 
at a time. While holding down the Shift key, 
use the Page Up/Page Down keys to select 
large blocks at a time. Use the Ctrl-A key 
combination to highlight the entire document. 

There is a small drawback to highlighting 
with the mouse. Once you get to the endpoint 
and release the mouse button, you can no 
longer increase or decrease your selection. This 
is where keyboard highlighting comes in handy. 
Try selecting some text with the mouse, and 
then use the keyboard to add to the highlighted 
text. The keyboard also can give you finer con- 
trol over what is selected. 


Given any combination of the above methods 
of highlighting text, highlight a section of the 
text that you want to copy. Now, hold the Ctrl 
key while pressing the C key at the same time 
(Ctrl-C). The text is then copied to a temporary 
place called the clipboard. Move the cursor to 51 


where you want a copy of the text. Then press 
the paste shortcut sequence, Ctrl-V. A copy of 
the text is now in the new location. 

If you want to move text, you have to high- 
light the text you want moved, cut it from the 
old location, and then paste it in a new loca- 
tion. Try this with your sample document. 
Highlight the text you want to move. Then 
press Ctrl-X to cut that text. You should see the 
text disappear, but it was moved into a tempo- 
rary place known as the clipboard. Now move 
the cursor to a new location where you want to 
move the text. Press Ctrl-V to paste it there. 
Voila — you have just cut text from one location 
and pasted it into another. 


The Ctrl-then-C key combination is referred to in 
print in many ways, including Control-C, Ctrl-C, 
cntrl-c or even the obscure A C. The point is simply 
that you hold down the Ctrl key and then press 
the C key, or whatever other key is necessary for 
your Ctrl combination. 

Other key combinations are written the same 
way. Here is a table describing the cut and paste 
keyboard shortcuts. The mnemonic at the end 
may be useful, but it is by no means essential that 
you memorize the combinations by the sometimes 
obscure mnemonics (Table 1). 


You may be wondering what it means that 
"The text is then copied to a temporary place 
called the clipboard." The clipboard is best 
thought of as a magical place where you can 
store things and retrieve them later. The catch is 
that you can put only one thing in the clipboard 
at a time. As we will see later, the clipboard is 

Table 1. Cut and Paste Keyboard Shortcuts 

Key Sequence Action Mnemomic 


Copy selected text 

Control Copy 


Cut (delete) selected text 

Control eXcise 


Paste buffered text 

Control View 


Select all text 

Control All 


Undo last action 

Control Zinger 

capable of handling much more than merely 
text, and the clipboard is not limited to Text placed in the clipboard is 
available to any other application in KDE or 
GNOME. It must be noted, however, that cer- 
tain applications cannot handle the clipboard 
for one reason or another. In that case, nothing 
happens when you try to paste the contents of 
the clipboard into an incompatible application. 

The primary purpose of cut and paste may 
be for editing, but the real beauty of the 
system is apparent only when you need to 
aggregate small amounts of data from different 
document types in one place. If you need many 
different types, or simply a lot of data types, in 
one document, has a Master 
Document feature that is beyond the scope of 
this article. 

All OpenOffice applications can cut and paste 
data beyond simple text. In fact, 
is designed to share program functions wherever 

it is possible to do so. Because of this function 
sharing, the way some things get pasted may 
surprise you. 

A common source of data is numeric, like that 
found in Calc, the spreadsheet. If 
you cut or copy a selection of spreadsheet cells 
from Calc and place it into another 
application like Writer, what you get looks like a 
table representation of the spreadsheet data. But 
what you really are placing in your document is a 
small version of Calc. 

It is important to note that the data you paste 
in the Writer document is not connected in any 
way to the original document. Any changes you 
make to the Calc data that is pasted in your 
Writer document will not be reflected in the origi- 
nal source Calc spreadsheet. Any changes you 
make in the original Calc spreadsheet will not be 
reflected in the data you pasted from that spread- 
sheet. Once the Calc data is in the Writer docu- 
ment, it no longer has any connection to the orig- 55 


inal spreadsheet. 

You still can manipulate the spreadsheet 
data you pasted into the document almost as if 
you were using the Calc spreadsheet. Simply 
double-click the pasted area of Calc data, and 
you'll see it transform into a spreadsheet-like 
mini-window, with rows, columns and cells. 
Even your toolbars at the top of Writer should 
change to include Calc tools. 

Here is where caution is warranted. When 
you are finished modifying the Calc data, click 
outside the area on a blank area of the docu- 
ment or on a spot where there's regular text. 
This exits the special Calc mode and returns 
the data to the form of a table. Writer will dis- 
play the Calc information exactly the way you 

Choosing a feature from the Edit menu, or a 
quick click of the shortcut buttons, does exact- 
ly the same thing as the keyboard shortcuts. 
But wait, there's more! 

Look closely at the paste shortcut button on 
the toolbar (it looks like a clipboard with some 
paper attached). There is a little green arrow in 
the top-right corner. That arrow is there to let 
you know you have more options to choose 
from. You can access the other options by 
what is called a long click in 
parlance. Click on the toolbar button, but hold 
the mouse button down until the options drop 
down in the form of a menu. Don't worry 
about trying to get the mouse on the green 
arrow; it works if you click anywhere on the 

■ Spreadsheet 

■ GDI Metafile 

■ Bitmap 

■ HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) 

■ Unformatted text 

■ Formatted Text (RTF) 

The Spreadsheet choice is the 
default behavior you see when you do a simple 
cut and paste operation. Remember, this is the 
choice that brings all the features of Calc along to 

All OpenOffice applications can cut and paste data beyond simple text. 

left it. If you scrolled down a column so that 
no numbers appear in the spreadsheet, no 
numbers will be displayed in Writer. This 
behavior is confusing at first, but was designed this way to make 
your life easier in the long run. The important 
lesson here is that the default cut and paste 
behavior is actually to bring a part of the 
application along with the data. 

Now, we look at ways to modify the way to 
paste objects or text. If you have ever used a 
computer-based word processor, you probably 
are aware that cutting and pasting can be 
accomplished by using more than the keyboard 
or mouse. We have ignored the menus until 
now because they function a bit differently 
than people may be used to. Don't worry, the 
basics are the same as other programs. 

icon. The same options are available from the 
Edit menu by choosing Paste Special. 

Sometimes you do not want to bring all the 
full-blown Calc features along for a few numbers 
or some other trivial bit of information. Let's look 
at the Paste Special features that are available for 
pasting a small column of numbers from Calc into 
Writer. The Paste Special menu is aware of the 
type of data on the clipboard and presents only 
valid options for that data type. Our column of 
numbers consists of simple text and thus has the 
most features available for use. Look at the fol- 
lowing list of choices on the Paste Special menu. 
Don't worry right now if some of the jargon does 
not make sense, or if the list and order varies 
depending on the version of 
you're using: 

your Writer document. 

GDI Metafile is probably the most complex 
thing on the menu. Fortunately, you need to 
know only what it does, not what it is. When 
you paste a GDI Metafile into a document, an 
image of the clipboard contents is the result. 
The GDI Metafile image is scalable, meaning 
that you can make it appear larger or smaller, 
without losing image detail. Pasting the GDI 
Metafile type works especially well in the 
Impress presentation application. 

The third option, Bitmap, is a rudimentary 
graphics format. Bitmap graphics do not scale 
well and are best left at their default pasting 
size. The benefit of a bitmap is that it is a 
widely used format. Nearly every other non- application can recognize and 
use a bitmap. 53 


The last three options are all vari- 
ations on simple text objects. In each 
case, you get the text with special 
formatting codes. Hypertext Markup 
Language (HTML) is the lingua franca 
of World Wide Web pages. HTML is 
designed to look good on your com- 
puter Web browser screen and may 
not be suitable for printed docu- 
ments. The Unformatted Text option 
is the lowest common denominator. 
Pasting unformatted text is the exact 
same thing as typing it in yourself. 
The last option, Formatted Text, uses 
another widely known and under- 
stood document format called Rich 
Text Format (RTF). Rich Text is a nice 
way of preserving the table structure 
along with the data in our example, 
so that any cosmetic changes you 
made to the data in the spreadsheet 
should appear when you paste the 
data into the document. 

Using one of the features from 
the Paste Special menu usually gives 
the effect you desire. 


When you cut or copy data from one 
application and paste it in another, 
the copy you pasted is no longer 
aware of the original data. It has been 
cut off from its original source and 
won't change to match any changes 
you make to the original source. 

Data in a document that is still 
connected to its source is generally 
referred to as live data. In for Linux, cut and 
paste does not give you live data 
between applications, but there are 
ways to achieve this feature. 

The easiest way to work with live 
data is to use the 
Master Document type. Instead 
of trying to shoehorn data types 
to fit, simply assemble them under 
one roof. You then can work on 
each piece separately or even 
delegate author duties to other 
people. When all the pieces are 
complete, the whole thing can be 
printed for a professional appear- 
ance. This approach is not at all 
intuitive, and it has some unfortu- 
nate limitations at this point. For 
example, you cannot make a 
spreadsheet a part of a master 
document, so this does not let you 
insert a live link to an external 
spreadsheet, such that any change 
you make in the spreadsheet is 
reflected in the master document. 
Master documents currently are 
designed more for constructing 
books, where the sub-documents 

(chapters, for example) are still 
only text documents. 

A more expert approach to 
working with live data is to use a 
database to house the information. comes with a multi- 
tude of features that allow manip- 
ulation of database data. Admittedly, 
these features are generally for the 
power users of This 
topic deserves its own article, as it is 
more complex. 

As we have seen, cut and paste 
can be as simple as a basic editing 
feature or a gateway to much more 
complex documents. We started 
with the basic features that will 
allow you to become productive in immediately. Using 
the basic building blocks, we then 
progressed to using more complex 
manipulation of data types. 
Hopefully, seeing these tools will 
encourage you to branch out 
beyond correcting mistakes and 
reordering thoughts to unleash the 
productivity found in many other features. ■ 

Some people really need live data, so they can paste a copy of 
some numbers from a spreadsheet into a document, and expect 
the numbers in the document to reflect any changes made to the 
spreadsheet. ElOffice does this extremely well. If you are open to 
using a non-free office suite in addition to, or instead of, visit to see if ElOffice 
could be right for you. 

Scott Stahl is a professional 
systems administrator and Linux 
instructor with more than 15 
years of experience. After writing 
technical documentation all of 
those years, he finally decided to 
write things that someone might 
actually read. 5H 



Linking Users with Their Data 

This article describes how to make your life easier by creating links to com- 
monly used folders and placing these links on your desktop for easy access. 


One of the most common problems new users 
of Linux and Windows alike encounter is that 
it's often hard to manage your folders. 
Microsoft attempted to address this problem by 
creating a My Documents folder where you 
would store your documents by default, a My 
Pictures folder and so on. The problem with 
this approach is that people tend to fill up 
these folders with dozens if not hundreds of 
unorganized files, which makes it difficult to 
find anything. The solution? Organize your files 
by creating folders within folders, by category. 

Most of us like to organize the data we 
have. For example, you might create a Music 
folder under which you will organize all your 
music files (MP3 files, perhaps). You don't want 
to put all the files in that specific folder, 
because it will be difficult to find the songs 
you like best as it fills up. So you create more 
folders within Music to sort out the songs. 
Perhaps you will decide to organize your collec- 
tion by music style, artist, album and file type 
(MP3, wave file and so on). 

Let's say you create a Jazz folder (music type) 
within your Music folder, and then create a 
Steps Ahead folder (band name) within the Jazz 
folder. Finally, you create a Magnetic folder 

(album name) within your Steps Ahead folder. 
Everything is organized neatly, so you can navi- 
gate through your music files by genre, artist 
and album. 

Here's the problem. Organization like this cre- 
ates folders within folders within folders, and it 
becomes frustrating to get to what you want 
because you have to navigate through all these 
folder categories over and over again. 

Here's an example of what you may want to 
do to solve this problem. Perhaps Magnetic is your 
favorite album for now, and you want to listen to 
it frequently. Wouldn't it be nice if you could get 
instant access to the MP3 files for that album 
without having to navigate through all the folders 
and sub-folders you created in order to organize 
your files? 

It's actually quite simple to do this without 
destroying or rearranging the way you organized 
your files. Simply create a folder on your desktop 
that links to your Magnetic folder. 

By placing links to your most common desti- 
nations on your desktop, you can cut working 
time and frustration down by a huge margin. 
In this article, we look at desktop linking, how 
it can benefit you and other ways linking can 
be useful with Linux's two main desktops, KDE 

and GNOME. 

For the following sections, we use the above 
example for the sake of easy reading. Once you 
understand the ease with which you can create 
links on the desktop that point to deeply buried 
folders, simply substitute your own buried folder 
name for Magnetic in our example and create 
your own links to your favorite folders. 

Our goal is to create a link to the Magnetic 
folder that appears on your desktop, so you can 
open up this folder of MP3 files without having to 
navigate through all the folders, for example, 
Music^Jazz^Steps Ahead^Magnetic. 


Of the two desktops, KDE has the easiest method 
for creating links on your desktop that point to 
folders buried under the plethora of folders you 
may have created to organize your files. 

If you want to try this exercise with the sample 
folder names we are using, here's how to create 
the set of nested folders: 

1 . Move the mouse pointer to an empty space on 
your KDE desktop background. Click the button 
on the right side of your mouse (right-click) and 
hold it down until you see a menu pop up. 


Point your mouse to the Create New option on 
the menu. This should make another menu 
appear. Move the mouse to highlight Folder..., 
and click the left button on your mouse. A dia- 
log box pops up asking you what you want to 
name this folder. Name the folder Music (unless 
you already have a Music folder on the desk- 
top, in which case you'll have to choose anoth- 
er name). Do not type quotes around Music; 
simply enter the word Music. You never have to 
type in quotes when naming folders. 

2. You now should see a Music folder on your 
desktop. Click on that folder with your left 
mouse button. Now we're going to repeat the 
same process we described in step one. Right- 
click on the empty space in the Music folder, 
select Create New and then Folder. Name this 
folder Jazz. Left-click the Jazz folder. Right-click 
on an empty space, select Create New, and 
then Folder. Name this folder Steps Ahead. Left- 
click the Steps Ahead folder. Right-click on an 
empty space, select Create New, then Folder. 
Name this folder Magnetic. 

3. Finally, close the file manager window. (You 
could leave it open, because we're about to 
navigate right back to this spot, but you should 
close it if you want to follow the instructions 

You should be ready to follow the exercise exact- 
ly as described in our example. If you are confident 
enough with the Linux KDE Desktop, feel free to 
create your own hierarchy of folders with whichever 
categories you like, and then simply follow the 
instructions using your own folder names. 


1 . Open your home folder with Konqueror and 
navigate your way through the category folders 
(Music, Jazz and so on) until you get to the 
folder that you want linked (in this example it 
would be Magnetic). 

2. Make sure you don't navigate into the folder 
named Magnetic. In our example, you would 
stop navigating when you reach the Steps 
Ahead folder, which contains the Magnetic 
folder. The Steps Ahead folder is called the par- 
ent folder to the Magnetic folder. 

3. Click on the Magnetic folder with the left 
mouse button, and keep holding down the 
mouse button. Drag the folder from the 
Konqueror window to an empty space on your 
desktop and then release the mouse button. 

4. A dialog box now pops up with the options: 
Copy Here, Move Here and Link Here. Choose 
Link Here, and you now should have a desktop 
shortcut that points to Magnetic. Now, when- 
ever you want to get to those particular song 
files, all you have to do is click on the desktop 
link. It is no longer necessary to wade through 
multiple folders and categories to get to this 


GNOME has a slightly more difficult method and 
is covered here in two parts: linking from a Linux 
filesystem and linking from a Windows filesystem. 

1 . Open up your home folder with Nautilus, and navi- 
gate your way to a folder that is buried — some- 
thing like the Steps Ahead folder in our example. 
You should see the Magnetic folder there (or 
whichever folder you plan to link instead). 

L«to. E* 1— &> E°c*hj*k I«fc Send Htb H4 

4 >_taViwtoAP 


Figure 1. The Ease of Creating Links with KDE 

Figure 2. The newly created link before its final 
destination with Nautlius. 5B 


2. Right-click on the Magnetic folder, and choose 
Make Link from the pop-up menu. 

3. Nautilus now creates a new folder called link to 
Magnetic and places it in the same folder as 
the original. Left-click and hold down the 
mouse button, and drag the new folder called 
link to Magnetic onto the desktop. You should 
now have a desktop shortcut under GNOME to 
your favorite album. 


Linking isn't purely for making shortcuts to com- 
mon folders on the desktop, it has many other 
uses too. 

Linking to your home directory can be just as 
advantageous, if not more so, than linking to your 
desktop. With links in your home directory, you 
can access your most important files and folders 
quickly from any window manager, any file man- 
ager and even from the command line. Whenever 
I install Linux, the first thing I do is make home 
directory links to my most important folders; this 
makes the process of getting off the ground much 
quicker and easier. 

In order to make a home directory link, simply 
follow the steps for making desktop links, but 
open a new window with your home directory and 
drag the file or folder into your home directory's 
window, instead of onto the desktop. 


So far, we've covered only linking folders, or direc- 
tories (they're the same thing, folder is simply a 
GUI term for a directory), but you also can link 
files using exactly the same method described 
above. Linking files can be useful for all kinds of 
things, like accessing a file that is used daily or 

simply having a file in two places at once, 
whether it be for working on it from several dif- 
ferent places or for having a file exist with two 
different names. This kind of usage can be handy 
when it comes to programs and their configura- 
tion files, but this is quite advanced and beyond 
the scope of this article. 


When it comes to linking to your home directory, I 
recommend linking only folders, and only the most 
commonly used folders at that. Home directories 
can get cluttered very quickly; moving around in a 
file manager with a cluttered home directory can 
defeat the whole purpose of linking in the first 
place. For files or folders that you use a lot, but 
only temporarily, try linking them to the desktop 
instead. If what you are chasing is only a folder or 
so away, it may not be worth a link and may just 
be taking up space, but a file or folder that's many 
folders down the chain is certainly worth linking to. 

If you have a file or folder that you are using 
everyday for the moment, it's definitely worth 
making a desktop link, especially if it's buried 
deep under a lot of folders, as mentioned earlier. 
If this file or folder is likely to be used often, it's 
worth making a link from your home directory as 
well. If the link you are making is being accessed 
under a number of programs as well, then a 
home directory link is far more useful then a desk- 
top link, as the desktop's directory is harder to get 
to than your home directory (home is usually the 
first directory brought up by any program). 

By now you should have a number of uses for 
linking and at the very least, you'll find your hard 
disk more organized and more efficient. When it 
comes to linking, Konqueror is certainly the better 
choice, as linking from a Windows filesystem isn't a 

QWhy can't I link from a Windows filesystem 
using GNOME/Nautilus, yet I can do it 
under KDE? 

A In order to make links, Linux uses a method 
called symbolic linking. However, symbolic linking 
is supported only under Linux/UNIX filesystems and not 
under Windows. When Konqueror links a file, it simply 
tries to make a link at the final destination (like the 
desktop); when Nautilus makes a link, it makes a link in 
the same place that the parent folder resides, which 
you then move to the final destination. If this happens 
on a Windows filesystem, it canft make the link to 
begin with and therefore comes up with an error. 

problem due to its simple and elegant process for 
copying/moving/linking. The problem in Nautilus is 
simply a design flaw that hopefully will be changed 
in future. GNOME users can still link from a 
Windows filesystem with other methods though, 
such as using the command line, or even by firing 
up Konqueror under GNOME (but these are also 
beyond the scope of this article). In the meantime, 
try experimenting with linking as much as you can, 
and this should take you a step further into making 
your Linux environment truly comfortable. ■ 

John Knight is a 20-year-old rock-climb- 
ing, Japan-loving megalomaniac, trying 
to take over the world from his bedroom 
via his keyboard. He spends most of his 
time tinkering with MPIayer and head- 
banging to his MP3s. 57 


Be the Master of All You Survey: 
Using Konqueror for File 
Management and Domination 

Konqueror is so feature-rich that it sometimes can be intimidating. /Eleen Frisch sorts out the basics and some 
advanced features with this comprehensive look at how you can manage your folders and files with Konqueror. 



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Computer users spend a lot of time working with 
their files: creating and editing them, figuring out 
where to put them, changing their names, copy- 
ing and moving them to different locations, get- 
ting rid of ones they don't need anymore and so 
on. Modern user environments typically provide 
tools for working with folders and files. Linux is 
no exception, and its Konqueror file manager 
application is both powerful and simple to use. In 
fact, Konqueror also functions as a Web browser, 
thereby providing a single interface for two sepa- 
rate activities (and, in fact, it supports several oth- 
ers as well). 


You can open the Konqueror application in several 
ways. For example, you can double-click on the 
Konqueror or home directory icon typically found 
on the desktop. Once it is opened, a window like 
the one shown in Figure 1 appears. 

This window is divided into several distinct 

■ The usual menu bar along the top of the win- 

■ A series of one or more toolbars underneath 
the menu bar. In Figure 1, there are two tool- 
bars present: the Main toolbar and the Location 
toolbar. The Main toolbar contains icons for 
many common tasks. The Location toolbar dis- 
plays the directory (folder) whose contents cur- 
rently are displayed in the window's main area. 
This toolbar also can be used to navigate to a 
different directory or Web page by typing in the 
desired location. Directory paths are preceded 
by the string file: (just as World Wide Web loca- 5S 


tions are preceded by http:). 

■ The vertical toolbar and folder list display along 
the left side of the window is known as the 
Navigation panel. The icons in its toolbar per- 
form various navigation-related tasks, and the 
somewhat narrow display area can show a tree- 
like view of the folder hierarchy. The panel can 
be displayed or not displayed, as desired. 

■ The main display area in the window shows the 
contents of the current location, in this case, 
the files within the current directory. The cur- 
rent display mode is icon view, in which various 
files and subdirectories are displayed as icons. 
Other display modes also are supported, as we 
will see. 

■ The display area contains two tabs, each of 
which shows the contents of a different direc- 
tory. In addition to supporting multiple displays 
via separate tabs, this area also can be divided 
into multiple sub-windows, arranged either hor- 
izontally or vertically. 

The callout text within Figure 1 provides a 
quick reference to the functions of the many icons 
found within the Konqueror window. At any time, 
you can get more detailed help about a window 
control or section using the Help-»What's This 
menu path or the Shift-F1 key combination. Doing 
either causes the cursor to change appearance to 
include a small question mark. At this point, you 
can click on the item for which you want help, 
and detailed information about it is displayed. 


Many of the icons on the Main toolbar should be 

familiar to you. For example, the first six icons typ- 
ically are found in the same location on the tool- 
bar for most Web browsers. In the context of file 
browsing, a couple of them function slightly dif- 
ferently. For example, although the Back and 
Forward buttons change the display to the previ- 
ous/next location as they do when browsing the 
Web, the Up button changes the displayed direc- 
tory to the folder immediately above the current 
one in the directory tree. The Home button dis- 
plays the contents of your home directory by 
default (unless you configure Konqueror different- 
ly). The Cut, Copy and Paste buttons also function 
slightly differently. When one or more items is 
selected and you click Cut or Copy, those items 
are moved or copied to the clipboard. The Paste 
button copies any item(s) on the clipboard to the 
current directory location. In both cases, the items 
themselves are what is copied and pasted, not 
merely their contents. 

The tab icons create a new tab within the dis- 
play area and close the current tab, respectively 
(see the icons labeled New Tab and Close Tab in 
Figure 1). The magnifying glass icons with the plus 
and minus signs on their lower left sides change 
the size of icons within the display area, making 
them larger or smaller, respectively. The Icon View 
and List View buttons cause each item to be dis- 
played as an icon or as a line within a list of items. 

Most of the icons on the Navigation panel are 
easy to understand. However, one of them 
requires a bit of explanation. The icon labeled 
Root Directory in Figure 1 toggles the display of 
the folder tree, removing or restoring it with each 
click. When the display is present, it shows the 
contents of the entire folder hierarchy on the 


Selecting the Settings^Toolbars^Show Extra 
Toolbar menu item causes an additional toolbar, 
known as the Extra Toolbar, to be displayed. 
When Konqueror is being used as a file browser, 
this toolbar looks like the one shown in Figure 2. 

J&Bffl S% 

Figure 2. Extra Toolbar 

Moving from left to right in Figure 2, these 
icons open and close the Navigation panel, open 
the Find File facility (discussed below), split the 
display area into two sub-windows (arranged hori- 
zontally or vertically), close the current sub-win- 
dow (known as the active view), toggle the dis- 
play of icon previews (for example, tiny displays of 
the actual contents of a picture file rather than 
merely a generic icon for that file type) and open 
the View Filter dialog (see below). 


There are several ways to move to a different 
directory location within Konqueror. For example, 
you can use the Location Toolbar to specify the 
desired location. You also can navigate using the 
Navigation panel's directory tree view. Clicking on 
a folder causes the items within it to appear with- 
in the display area (more specifically, within the 
currently active view/tab). The tree can be expand- 
ed and contracted by clicking on the minus and 
plus signs to the left of folder names. The items 
on the Go menu also can be used for navigation 
purposes. Several commonly used destinations are 
included as items within it. The Go menu also 
contains two useful submenus: a list of Most 59 


Often Visited directories and a List of Recent 
Places. Finally, you can create Bookmarks for direc- 
tory locations just as you do within a Web brows- 
er for Web sites. The Bookmarks menu provides 
features for accomplishing this. 


Konqueror provides three different mechanisms 
for viewing multiple folders at the same time: 

■ Separate windows: you can open a new 
Konqueror window using the Location^New 
Window menu item (or by pressing Ctrl-N). 
Each window operates independently. 

Using tabs: you can have multiple display areas 
within a single Konqueror window by using 
tabs. The New Tab item on the Window menu 
creates a new tab, pointing to the same direc- 
tory as the current tab, as does the key combi- 
nation Ctrl-Shift-N or the corresponding item 
on the Main toolbar. You can close the current 
tab with Ctrl-W or Window^Close Current Tab 
or by using the Toolbar icon. You can cycle 
among tabs from the keyboard with Ctrl-] 
(move to the previous tab) and Ctrl-[ (move to 
the next tab). Other operations are available on 
the Window menu. 

■ Split views: you also can divide the display 
area — whether or not you're using tabs — to 
create separate sub-windows called views. You 
can divide the area into two (or more) horizon- 
tally or vertically arranged panes. In fact, you 
can create arbitrarily complex layouts of view 
panes, because each time you perform a divi- 
sion operation, it operates only on the active 

view. Take a bit of time to play around with this 
feature to learn how it works. Figure 5 displays 
a Konqueror window with two views. 


Konqueror has many options for displaying the 
items within a directory. The first main distinction 
is between an icon view and a list view, and there 
are icons on the Name toolbar that switch 
between them. However, Konqueror actually 
offers two different list view formats, accessible 
via the View->View Mode slide-off menu's Info 
List View and Detail List View items. The List View 
icon on the Main toolbar uses whichever of these 
list view forms has been selected most recently. 
Figure 3 shows the detailed list view provided by 
Konqueror. For each file and folder within a direc- 
tory, the display includes the item name, size, 
type, most recent modification date, permission 

settings, owner, group owner and link target if 
the item is a symbolic link. You can click on any of 
the headings to sort the list based upon that item. 
The first click sorts the list in ascending order for 
that item — that is, alphabetically for names, from 
smallest to largest for numbers and dates and so 
on — and the next click sorts the list in descending 

You also can control whether hidden files are 
included within the display using the View^Show 
Hidden Files menu item. If hidden files are dis- 
played, their icons/entries indicate their status by 
dimming. For example, see the folder .xvpics 
shown in Figure 1. 

Konqueror also includes a much more detailed 
way of controlling which files are displayed. This is 
known as the View Filter, and you can open it 
using the Tools^View Filter slide-off menu or by 
clicking on the corresponding icon on the Extra 

3fik: home. r^ehis<:h xlei - Konqueror 

■ ? |-|o|x 

Location Edit View Go Bookmarks lools Settings Window Help 

n&Bm %\ ♦,>„■£<& so ^QiB 


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Efr Location: | . file:/home/aefrisch/xfer 






File Type 






; 4.0 KB Directory 11/28/04 OS: 56 pm 


aefrisch aefrisch 

. drag_movel.jpg 219.7 KB 
Vdrag_move.jpg 233.2 KB 

V tab_menu.jpg 258.0 KB 

V konqueror.jpg 140.2 KB 

JPEG Image 01/20/05 12:18 pm 
JPEG Image 01/20/05 12:10 pm 



JPEG Image 01/20/05 12:08 pm 



JPEG Image 01/20/05 10:41 am 


aefrisch aefrisch 



Q aef_l.tgz 690.7 KB Gzipped Tar Archive 
j appO.tif 327.1 KB TIFF Image 

• 7 Items - 6 Files (1.5 MB Total) - One Directory 

11/28/04 08:56 pm 
11/27/04 03:02 pm 




/st uff/ae/ap p 0.tif 


Figure 3. Konqueror's Detail List View 3D 


menu. In either case, the Only Show Items of Type 
menu appears (Figure 4). 

Gzipped Tar Archive 
-■ JPEG Image 
. TIFF Image 


</ Use Multiple Filters 
Show Count 

Figure k. Only Show Items of Type Menu 

The items in the first two sections of the list 
shown in Figure 4 consist of all of the different file 
and folder types that are present within the cur- 
rent directory. In this case, there are three differ- 
ent types of files, including two different types of 
images, as well as one or more ordinary subdirec- 
tories. The Use Multiple Filters item controls 
whether items of more than one type are dis- 
played; it is checked by default. 

You can use this dialog by selecting one or 
more item types from the list. As you do so, the 
items in the display area appear and disappear to 
conform with your specification. The Show Count 
item within this menu causes the number of items 
of each type to be displayed within the menu list. 


When you are using more than one view, you can 

choose to link multiple views together so that 
changing the current directory within one of them 
causes the same change to occur within the other 
automatically. For example, you might create two 
views stacked on top of one another and set them 
both in the same folder. One of them might dis- 
play the items in icon view while the other dis- 
plays them as a detailed list. Linking them retains 
the same two views whenever you change the 
current directory in either one. 

You can link views using the small check 
box in the lower-right corner of the view sub- 
window. Clearing the check box causes the link 
to be broken. 

The View menu's Lock to Current Location item 
causes the current directory in the active view to 
be locked, preventing you from accidentally 
changing it. This can be useful if there is a directo- 
ry with contents you want to examine often. For 
example, I frequently create a tab pointing to the 
directory in which I'm currently working and then 
lock it. 


Konqueror makes it easy to work with files and 
folders. In this section, I briefly summarize the 
most common operations you might want to per- 

■ Selecting items: clicking on an item selects it, 
changing its appearance (see the save item in 
Figure 1, for example). You can select multiple 
contiguous items by holding down the Shift key 
as you click on icons or create a marquee around 
a group of icons. To select a random collection 
of icons, hold down the Ctrl key as you select 
them. You also can use the Ctrl-A key combina- 
tion to select all of the items within the display. 

View item properties: these can be displayed 
for a selected item by pressing Alt-Return. 
Alternatively, you can right-click on an item 
and then select Properties from the resulting 
context menu. 

Opening an item: there are many ways to open 
an item. For example, you can double-click on 
its icon or select its icon and then press the 
Return key. If you want to choose which appli- 
cation is used to open the item, right-click on it 
and choose Open With. 

Creating a new folder: you can create a new 
folder (subdirectory) within the current directory 
by pressing the F10 key. More generally, you 
can create a new item of many different types 
using the Edit^Create New menu item or by 
right-clicking in a blank area of the current view 
and then selecting Create New. 

Renaming an item: the simplest way to rename 
an item is to click the cursor within its name, 
wait until the name text is selected, and then 
type the new name. You also can use the 
Edit^Rename menu path or the F2 key to per- 
form the same operation. 

Deleting an item: Konqueror provides three dif- 
ferent ways of removing a file or folder. 
Selecting one or more items and then pressing 
the Delete key (or choosing Edit^Move to 
Trash) moves those items to the trash (where 
they remain until you empty it). If you want to 
delete the items immediately, you can use the 
Shift-Delete key combination instead (or choose 
Edit^Delete). Finally, if you want to delete the 
item immediately and attempt to obliterate all 31 


traces of it from the disk, use the Ctrl-Shift- 
Delete key combination (or Edit^Shred). This 
latter operation writes data to those disk areas 
previously used by the items several times. 

Copying and moving items: Konqueror does 
an especially good job of copying and mov- 
ing items between folders. Once again, there 
are many ways to accomplish these opera- 
tions. One of the simplest is to divide the dis- 
play area into two views: one for the current 
location of the items and another for the 
location where you want to copy or move 
them. Once you have done this, you simply 
can select the desired items within their cur- 
rent location and drag them into the other 

konquerar.jpg (140.2 KB) JPEG Image 

Figure 5. Copying or Moving Items by Dragging 

view. This operation is shown in Figure 5. 

Once you let go of the items, a menu appears 
containing the following choices: Copy Here, 
Move Here, Link Here and Cancel. At this point, 
you can select the item that corresponds to what 
you want to do: create a copy of the items, move 
the items from their old location to this new one, 
create a symbolic link for each item within the tar- 
get folder or cancel the operation. There are other 
ways to copy and move files. For example, you 
can select the desired items and then press F7 to 
copy them or press F8 to move them (the 
Edit^Copy Files and Edit^Move Files menu items 
perform the same tasks). In addition, you can use 
the familiar cut and paste functions to move items 
(using copy instead of cut 
if that is what you want). 


Sometimes things get 
lost. When a file is lost, 
Konqueror can help. The 
Tools^Find File menu 
path (or the correspon- 
ding icon on the Extra 
Menu) results in the 
dialog shown in Figure 6. 
This dialog has three 
panels; the various 
panels are all displayed 
within the figure, 
arranged vertically. 

As the panels in the 
illustration indicate, this 
feature provides a rich 
and detailed set of search 
criteria. You can specify as 

Name/Location [[nntpnK [ Hrnnpjiips 

Named: [anna 


Lock In: | /stuff ^J | Browse... | 

[k Include lubdiiei. Haiti \~ Cdit! biiribllive search 

\ Name/Location Contents j Properties 

File type: | TiFF Image 


C retaining tpirt 

r casE sensitive f~ Regular express loci |~ 


StfdiUi uieldinfu seuiurib. fui. 

f Name/Location | Lontents | Pmppnlp<i 

[k Tind all files created or modified: 

between and 

• dunng die previous lis rH imomh(s| 


File size is: | (nonei ▼ | | | 

Files owned bv user v Owned by group: 


2 Items - 2 Files (4.8 ME Total) - Directories 

Figure 6. The Find File Dialog 

few or as many different attributes of the item 
you are looking for as you want. If more than one 
is used, the search looks for items that match all 
of them. 

The Name/Location panel holds the full or 
partial name of the item that you are looking 
for, as well as where the search should begin. 
In the example in Figure 6, I'm looking for a 
lost picture of an armadillo, so I specify the 
partial name arma* (the asterisk serves as a 
wild card). I also include the directory where I 
want the search to start; in my case, the search 
starts at /stuff and includes the entire directory 
tree underneath it. 

The Contents panel specifies characteristics 35 


of the item for which you're searching. In my case, I am 
looking for a TIFF image file. The File type pop-up contains a 
large number of possibilities, but do you not have to specify 
the item type at all if you don't want to. The Containing text 
field allows you to search within text files for a certain string 
or expression. 

The Properties panel specifies the date, size and owner- 
ship for the desired item. Here, I'm looking for a version of 
the file modified during the past 18 months (when I per- 
formed the search, I could find only a five-year-old version 
of the image I wanted). 

Once you have filled out all of the relevant fields, you can 
start the search, and Konqueror displays matching items. In my 
case, it succeeded in locating the file I wanted, which was deep 
within the directory tree in a folder called Old_Pix. 


I hope that this introduction to Konqueror is useful to you and 
that you are now aware of its extensive capabilities in terms of 
file and folder management. The Quick Reference table summa- 
rizes the menu path and key combinations for the most com- 
monly performed Konqueror tasks. Like most Linux applications, 
Konqueror also can be customized; see the various items on the 
Settings menu. In addition, don't forget to have fun as you 
explore Konqueror on your own.i 

/Eleen Frisch has been a system administrator for nearly 
25 years. Her current responsibilities center on looking 
after a very heterogeneous network of Linux, UNIX, Mac 
and Windows systems. She is also a writer, teacher, 
Webmaster, marketing consultant and occasional data- 
base programmer. She has written eight books, including 
the best-selling Essential System Administration, now in its 
third edition (O'Reilly), and Exploring Chemistry with 
Electronic Structure Methods (Gaussian, Inc.). /Eleen is a native Californian living 
in exile in Connecticut. Her free time is mostly monopolized by her cats Talia, 
Lyta and Susan, but she also makes time for various mosaic and book arts proj- 
ects. She can be reached by e-mail at 

Konqueror Quick Reference 

Konqueror Operation Key Combination Menu Path 

Go to your home directory 



Select all items in window 


EdiWSelect All 

Show item properties 



Rename item 



Print selected file 



Copy selected files 


Edit^Copy Files 

Move selected files 


Edit^Move Files 

Create a new directory 


Edit^New Directory 

Move to Trash 


Edit^Move to Trash 

Immediately delete 



Delete and erase from disk 



Open new window 


Location^New Window 

Split window vertically 


Window^Split View Top/Bottom 

Split window horizontally 


Window^Split View Left/Right 

Remove active portion of a split window 


Window^Remove Active View 

Create new tab 



Move to the previous/next tab 

Ctrl-[, Ctrl-] 


Close the active tab 


Window^Close Current Tab 

Detach the active tab as a separate window 


Window^Detach Current Tab 

Display the navigation panel 


Window^Show Navigation Panel 

Get help on a window item 


Help^What's This 


All about Screensavers. and 
Why You Want to Run Them 

Once necessary to protect hardware, today's Screensaver is mostly just cool. 


The first generation of computer screens could be 
damaged by displaying the same image for long 
periods of time. In a few days, the image would 
burn a ghost-like replica of itself into the screen. 
The image always would remain a distraction in 
the background. 

This led to the creation of screensavers. 
Screensavers are simple programs that generate a 
sequence of ever-changing graphics. The fact that 
the image changes frequently prevents any single 
image from being displayed long enough to burn 
a ghost of itself onto the screen. 

Advances in technology have made computer 
screens far more resistant to ghosting. The original 
problem has almost disappeared: any modern 
monitor can display the same static image for 
months before starting to "remember" it. 

In spite of this, screensavers are far from dead, 
for a couple of excellent reasons. 

The first reason is that they can all lock a 
computer, that is, hide all the windows, inhibit 
the keyboard and be stopped only by typing the 
password of the user who started them. In some 
companies, a locking Screensaver is mandatory. 
This helps to prevent janitors, night guards, mail 
carriers and similar high-tech criminals from 
stealing precious company intelligence. Even at 

home, however, a locked screensaver can be 
very useful. If you don't believe me, just leave 
your PC unattended, halfway through on-line 
shopping, while children are around: it will take 
only a few seconds to max out your credit card 
and leave you the dubious owner of items you 
never knew existed. 

The second big reason to use a screensaver 
is, of course, the same reason we want to have 
different clothes, cell-phone ring tones or e-mail 
signatures — to look cool and unique, right? 


There are some possible drawbacks to using 
screensavers. First of all, the more graphic-inten- 
sive a screensaver is, the more CPU cycles it uses 
to run. Other programs that you have running in 
the background might run more slowly (but there 
is a fix to that). 

In some extreme cases, your machine could 
become hotter, or noisier, if the fans ramp up to 
cool the processor that is refreshing (ah, the irony) 
your screen. On a laptop, batteries would dis- 
charge more rapidly. Thus, you may not want to 
use, or temporarily deactivate screensavers, if you 
have cooling problems, battery limitations or 
something really urgent to do. In addition, many 


The standard used to tell a monitor when and 
how to save power is called Display Power 
Management Signaling, or DPMS for short. 
Here's how to make your KDE 3.4 screen 
aware of DPMS. (The method is similar in ear- 
lier versions of KDE f so you should be able to 
find your way around even if you're not using 
version 3.4.) Point to an empty area on your 
KDE desktop and click the right mouse but- 
ton. Select and left-click on the Configure 
Desktop menu selection in the pop-up menu 
that appears. Click on the Screen Saver icon 
on the left-hand side of the dialog box that 
appears. Click the box that says Make aware 
of power management. That's it; you're done. 
More advanced users can set DPMS options 
using the xset command from the command 
line. Depending on the distribution, simply 
look through the documentation for some 
power- or DPMS-related entries. 3H 


modern monitors have some energy-saving capa- 
bilities to reduce power consumption. Forcing 
them to display a Screensaver prevents them from 
going into low-power standby mode. Fortunately, 
you usually can configure your desktop, such as 
KDE, to display the Screensaver for a while, after 
which it automatically blanks the screen and puts 
it in low-power mode. 

Last but not least, here's some embarrassment- 
prevention advice. You can set many systems to 
random Screensaver mode. This lets the system 
choose which Screensaver to start randomly. This 
is very cool, but think before activating it. Trust 
me when I say so. I chose random mode once on 
my office workstation, and it happily started a 3-D 
rotating model of the Viagra molecule, titled with 
128-point font size, right when my boss entered 
the room. 


A screensaver is any independent program that 
can draw something on screen. Normally, screen- 
savers never are invoked directly, and each one 
has many options to customize its behavior. 


The KDE screensaver panel is inside the 
Appearance/Sub Themes menu of the KDE 
Control Center. You can preview a screensaver 
simply by clicking on its name. Each has different 
options. To check and change the options, click 
on the Setup... button. To see full-screen what the 
result will look like, click Test. 

In this panel, you also can configure general 
parameters. This where you tell KDE if the screen- 
saver should be started automatically, after how 
many minutes of inactivity it should start or 
whether a password is needed to go back to the 

Figure 1. KDE Screensaver 

I- U X 



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This displays 2D projections of the sequence of 30 object which me 
<hc projections of [he 'ID analog to The cube as. a square Is composed 
of four lines, each touching. Iwo others; and a cube is composed of 
six squares, each touching four others; a hypercube is composed, of 
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See also the 'pcJytopGs" hack tor a more general version ol tins 
usinq OpenUL 


yjned | 

Figure 2. KDE Hypercube 

system. You also can set a grace period, that is, 
for how long, after the screensaver is started, a 
password is not required to stop it. This allows 

you to adjust your PC behavior to match your 
habits and level of paranoia exactly. For example, 
often I temporarily stop using the keyboard and 
mouse to consult some manual or other paper 
document. Without a grace period, I'd have to 
retype the password every time the screensaver 
starts. With the grace period, as soon as I notice 
that the screensaver started, I touch the mouse to 
reset it. Of course, if you start the screensaver 
deliberately, by clicking on the lock icon in the 
panel, there won't be any grace period. 

The default KDE selection offers screensavers of 
all types. With the several banners, for example, 
you can type in your own message or inspirational 
quotation (like "Time to go back to work!"), 
which will then move across the screen with the 
color and speed of your choice. The Banners and 
Pictures section also includes a Slideshow feature. 
Simply tell it in which folder your picture gallery is, 
and it merrily cycles through them. There are many 
more categories waiting for you to discover them. 
The KDE screensavers are in a separate package 
called KDE-artwork, which might be missing if you 
had a custom/minimal installation. Once they're 
installed, the control center knows which screen- 
saver to list by looking for text files with the 
.desktop extension in the proper folder. (On the 
Fedora Core distribution, this is in /usr/share/ 

This comes in handy when you want to remove 
a particular screensaver — for example, because it 
is not suitable for children or a work environment. 
The only thing you need to do is find the corre- 
sponding .desktop file and rename it to some- 
thing with a different extension. This won't pre- 
vent other users from launching the screensaver 
by hand, but frankly, if they know how to do this, 
the .desktop trick wouldn't change much anyway. 


Figure 3. Xscreensaver 

Screen idver Preference!. (KScreerrSdver d.lfl, 14-Auy-20M) 

Display Modes | Advanced 

I iiicLijc! McinipuldLiuii 
jJ^l Grab De*>fcEup Images 
l_ GrdtiVideu Frames 
|_| ChuuseRdfiiJum Inidye. 

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IJ — Power MdricUjemeriL Enabled 

| B rowse | 

Dray nasties 

3j D Verbose Diagnostics. 

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B Displdy SpUsri Suueri dL Slailurj 

Stand by After |12Q ^r m mutes 
Suspend After j uu g minutes 

lift After [<!4U -~| minutes 

^3 InsrallColarrnap 

Ivl Fdile Lu Bldck when Blank iuy 
|_| FaiJn rr^Hii Ride k Whfn Unlilririkiny 
F^de D li ration 3 * seconds 

• Help 

X Close 

To reenable the Screensaver, simply give the 
file its original name. 


The GNOME desktop uses the popular pro- 
gram Xscreensaver for managing this part of 
your system. It comes with a lot of screen- 
savers, including one, called VidWhacker, 
which grabs video frames from the system's 
video input and then uses some graphics fil- 
ters chosen at random to manipulate and 
recombine them in various ways. Even if it is 
laid out differently, the functionality of the 
GNOME interface to Xscreensaver is almost 
identical to the one in KDE. There is a list of 
the available screensavers, a preview window 
and a separate pop-up panel to modify, at 
will, all the available options for each hack. 
In GNOME's Xscreensaver, the binary pro- 
grams are (again, on Fedora Core) in 
/usr/X1 1 R6/lib/xscreensaver/, and the config- 
uration files read by the GNOME Control 
Center in /usr/share/control-center/ 
screensavers/. Beware that this time they 
have an .xml extension. Yes, there is some 
unnecessary duplication here. Hopefully, it 
will be removed in future distributions. The 
procedure to hide an unwanted hack is the 


same as with KDE; that is, remove or rename 
the configuration file that corresponds to the 
unwanted Screensaver. 


For more recent and snappier screensavers 
check out the, and 
ENkdelook.htm pages. The latter also has a 
newsletter that notifies you when new screen- 
savers are available. Oh, before I forget — do 
you have friends, stuck on Windows, who 
want (or need) to see that Linux is as GUI as 
they come? Surf over to 
linux-saver.html. That program (optimized 
for 800x600 resolution) will display nice 
Linux desktop screenshots to users who 
desperately need them. The author wel- 
comes more contributions!" 

Marco Fioretti is a hardware sys- 
tems engineer interested in free 
software both as an EDA platform 
and, as the current leader of the 
RULE Project, as an efficient desk- 
top. Marco lives with his family in 
Rome, Italy. 

Figure 4. Xscreensaver Preferences 

Using DPMS: .html 

Using DPMS to Reduce Your Power Bill: 


Sunsite Screensavers Section: 3B 


Going Guru: Michael's Top GIMP Tips 

It's a new day in a new world on the Linux Desktop. And like every good morning, we want to dive in and get things 
done. The GIMP makes our life easy, if we just remember a few great tricks of the trade. 


This article provides you with a 
must-have list of tips every GIMP 
Guru needs. Don't worry about 
which version of GIMP you're using. 
All of these tips apply to GIMP 2.0, 
the latest version and the one most 
users will see in new Linux distribu- 
tions. But, most also apply to GIMP 
1 .2, which has been the staple of 
Linux distributions for many years. 
I'll be sure to point out any version- 
specific issues. 

The GIMP can feel intimidating 
with its feature-rich environment, 
but nearly every common graphics 
task is little more than a couple of 
fast mouse clicks away. 


Need color in a big way? Drag and 
drop, my friend. The foreground 
and background colors can be 
dragged into any canvas or selec- 
tion for a quick color fill. Better 
yet, saved colors can be dragged 
and dropped too. How do you save 
colors? The Palette dialog is one 
place. Open the Palette dialog and 
drag any color into your canvas for 

instant color. 

GIMP 1 .2 users: the Watercolor 
tab in the Color Selection Dialog 
can save colors. Select a color, 
then click New in this tab to save 
it to the History boxes. Then, you 
can drag any History box to your 
selection or canvas. 

GIMP 2.0 users: the Change 
Foreground/Background Color 
Dialog has history boxes too. Click 
the right-facing arrow next to the 
history boxes to save the current 
color. Then drag the current color 
to your selection. GIMP 2.0 has 
the added bonus of allowing you 
to drag patterns into any selection 
or Canvas window too! 


The quickest way to turn a layer 
into an image on its own is to 
drag it from the Layers and 
Channels dialog to the Toolbox. 
This little trick is so easy it doesn't 
even need an example. Try it with 
one of your multilayered images, 
which you've saved in the XCF for- 
mat, right? The XCF format is The 

GIMP's native format, so files 
saved in this format preserve all 
the features The GIMP has to 
offer. It is a good idea to save all 
your GIMP images in XCF format 
until you're ready to use them in a 
Web page or other application, 
after which you can export the 
image to whatever format suits 
you — PNG, JPEG and so on. 


Straight lines can be drawn with any 
paint tool. Click once to set one end 
point. Shift-Click to draw a straight 
line to the second end point. Use 
Shift-Ctrl to view lines at offsets of 
1 5 degrees, and then click to draw 
the line. Primitive shapes need only 
an outline and a stroke applied. 
Outlines can be drawn by first set- 
ting guides, using the Path tool 
(GIMP 2.0) or Bezier tool (GIMP 1 .2) 
to create the selection. 


So, what about something more 
complex? How about ready-to-rock 
logos? The GIMP comes with a 


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Figure 1. GIMP 1.2 uses the 
Watercolor tab for color histories to 
do drag and fill. 

Figure 2. GIMP 2.0 has histories right 
up front, but it drags from the 
Current Color bar instead of the his- 
tory buttons. 37 


Figure 3. Click on guide intersec- 
tions with the Bezier tool in GIMP 1 .2 
to define the shape, then click inside 
the shape to create a selection. 
Select a paint tool and brush and 
use Edit^Stroke to draw the shape. 

plethora of logo designs ready to 
run. All you need to add is some 
text, a color or two, and a font. 

All the GIMP logos are found in 
the Xtns^Script Fu^Logos menu 
in both GIMP 1.2 and GIMP 2.0. 
For the more adventurous, and 
assuming you can stomach the 
scripting language (a form of 
Scheme), all logo scripts can be 
modified to your own taste. 


The effect with the most impact and 
the least effort has got to be shad- 

Figure 4. Click on guide intersec- 
tions with the Path tool in GIMP 2.0 
to define the shape. Then click on 
the Create Selection From Path but- 
ton. Edit^Stroke Selection is used 
to draw the shape, using either the 
current paint tool and brush or one 
of the user-defined stroke options. 

ows. These are found under Script- 
Fu^Shadow in both versions. The 
Drop Shadow in particular can take 
your ordinary graphic and make it 
stand out in 3-D with only two 
mouse clicks. 


The GIMP doesn't do duotone, 
which is a bummer. But, you can get 
the next best thing with judicious 

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Figure 5. The dialog windows for 
Logos are nearly identical for GIMP 
1 .2 and GIMP 2.0. Learning one will 
get you through the other. 

use of blend modes. Mixing some 
color in various ways with a desatu- 
rated image that has been converted 
to indexed mode and then back to 
RGB mode gets you pretty close to 
what you need. 

Converting to Indexed one more 
time after tinting also can enhance 
the effect, but the final choice 
depends on the original image and 
your own artistic flair. 

The print version of these images 
can't be guaranteed to be exactly 
correct, because CMYK isn't support- 
ed in The GIMP yet. But, if you can 
get the RGB equivalents of Pantone 
colors, your print results will be close 
to the Pantone color selected. 


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Figure 6. Font selections work basi- 
cally the same in both versions. 
Getting fonts recognized by GIMP 
versions differs, however. GIMP 1.2 
looks to the xfs server to provide 
fonts (try typing man xfs for help). 
GIMP 2.0 looks to FontConfig (see the 
fc-cache and fc-iist commands for 
help here). 


If you're not into building animations 
with The GIMP, you may not have 
run across this little jewel. The 
Animation^Playback filter lets you 
drag an image from its window onto 
any other window. You can use this 
feature to test how an image will 
look on your Web site by simply lay- 
ing it over the browser window. 

The really nifty part of this is that 
transparent images work too. No 
more regenerating Web pages and 
making sure your sizes are explicitly 
specified — simply drag the image 
over the browser to sample it. 3S 



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Figure 7. Not much has changed 
with default textures from 1.2 to 2.0. 
A couple extra textures are provided 
with 2.0, but you may want to add 
your own. They can be saved in any 
directory but both versions default 
to looking somewhere under the 
ScriptFu directories. 


If you recently uploaded a collection 
of JPEGs from your camera and 
want to get a collection of previews 
from those really fast, The GIMP 
makes it easy. Select File^Open in 
either version of The GIMP. The File 
Selection dialog lists all the images 
in the right side of the window 
pane. Click on the top-most entry, 
then hold down the Shift key while 
clicking on the bottom-most entry. 
Finally, click on Preview area. 
Thumbnail previews are generated 
for all the selected images. 

If you're a bit of a developer, it 
wouldn't be hard to open these 

Figure 8. The outline of a mouse 
takes on three dimensions with the 
simple addition of a drop shadow, k 
pixels offset and with a k pixel blur. A 
more complex example shows a per- 
spective shadow under a sphere 
(made with a circular selection and a 
radial gradient — and nothing more). 

thumbnails and create instant contact 
sheets. Producing a WYSIWYG sheet 
would require a bit of work — nothing 
more than a short GIMP Perl or even 
a ScriptFU script. 


Gradients are heavily used to simu- 
late depth in images. Draw a circle 
and fill with a radial gradient — white 
to black works best — to create a 
sphere. Gradients, however, use a 
lot of color. Trying to map one down 
to the few colors that are known to 
be Web-safe produces the all too 
familiar banding — lines of color 
that destroy the effect gradients 

So, how do you fix this problem? 

Figure 9. The first method of tinting 
an image is to desaturate an image 
and convert it to Indexed Mode. Map 
the number of colors to a very low 
amount, perhaps four to ten colors in 
the Indexed palette. This gets you the 
duotone appearance and leaves 
enough grayscale pixels to allow you 
to tint the image. Change back to 
RGB mode (so you can properly tint 
the image). Duplicate this layer one 
to three times. With each new layer 
do Ctrl-A to select everything, choose 
a colon set the blend mode to Color 
for the Bucket Fill tool and click on 
the canvas. The gray pixels are tint- 
ed. Repeat this on the other layers 
with other colors, and apply each 
layer with different layer modes. 

Figure 10. An alternative method to 
tinting an image is to use a layer that 
is fully colored and apply it using 
layer blend modes to the desaturated 
(but untinted) layer. This method has 
the advantage of not changing the 
desaturated layers' pixels and mak- 
ing use of compositing features of 
The GIMP to achieve the results 
you're after. Depending on the origi- 
nal layer modes like Multiple, 
Overlay, Screen and Hard Light 
(among others) can help bring out 
detail in the image. 39 


Nothing to it; add noise. The noise 
adds some randomness to the gradi- 
ent that breaks up the banding 
when you map colors down to the 
Web palette. 


Most graphics work flows follow a 
simple path: acquire, select, edit 
and apply effects. Acquired images 
come from cameras, scanners or 

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Figure 1 1 . Start with a single layer 
image. If your image has multiple 
layers, duplicate the image (Imager 
Duplicate) and flatten it. Then open 
(Animation Playback in 1.2). The ani- 
mation playback window shows the 
bottom layer of your image, which is 
why you want to flatten it first, at the 
same scale. Simply drag the image 
off onto another window. 

stock imagery. Once you have the 
image, you can really start to work. 
And, the place to start is a really 
good selection. 


Oval and rectangular selections are 
a cinch with The GIMP. Simply 
choose the appropriate selection 
tool, click and drag — instant selec- 
tion. But, most selections are not 



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Figure 12. Both versions of The GIMP 
offer thumbnail previews. The pre- 
views are not generated without your 
request, but click on the preview 
frame, and the previews are generat- 
ed for you. This image shows the File 
Selection dialog from GIMP 1.2 (fore- 
ground) and GIMP 2.0. 

as simple. They require shapes 
whose geometry would frighten 
Euclid (check with your high- 
school math teacher if you've for- 
gotten that reference). What we 
need is an easy way to draw the 
selection, without having to trace 
fine lines. 


Photographers have long cursed 

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Figure 13. After you've created your 
gradient, choose Filters^Noise^ 
Noisify. The preview shows noise 
throughout the preview, but only your 
selection in the canvas will actually 
have noise applied. Deselect the 
Independent toggle and adjust the 
sliders down a bit — the amount you 
use will take some experimentation. 
Remember Ctrl-Z is your undo friend. 

the sun for washing out their pho- 
tos. But long ago, a simple solution 
for most of these problems was 
discovered — white balance. The 
contrast in a washed out image 
does not run the range from fully 
black to fully white. Auto-Levels 
helps you fix that easily. 
Say hello to Auto-Levels. 

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Figure 14. Once the noise is applied, 
you can map your image to Indexed. 
Select the Web custom palette. If the 
image doesn't look right, undo the 
mapping and the noise, and then 
apply an adjusted amount of noise 
and map again. HO 



Giving your designs a 3-D look is 
nothing more than a bucket fill, blur, 
emboss and sharpen. This four-step 
process takes all of a minute to per- 
form, though the real trick is in cre- 
ating the initial shape. Sharp corners, 
straight lines and long curves work 
well. Avoid twisty shapes where lines 
criss-cross each other frequently. 


Although the tips so far have been 
for both versions of The GIMP, 
GIMP 2.0 has some added features 
that must be mentioned. The Full 
Screen Mode (press F1 1 to toggle 
it on and off) is highly useful. 
Dockable dialogs help clear the 
clutter of windows you can have 
open at one time — this is some- 

thing even Photoshop doesn't 
appear to have (unless it's in 
recent versions unseen by this 
author). All option menus can be 
scrolled with a wheel mouse if you 
have one. And, the Show/Hide 
options for Guides, Rulers, 
Scrollbars and other features help 
make your workspace truly yours. ■ 

Michael J. Hammel is an author, a graphic 
artist, Web designer, and software developer 
currently working for RLXTechnologies in 
Houston, Texas. He has spoken at the ALS, 
LinuxWorld and SXSW conferences and chaired 
multiple conferences on Linux in Colorado. He 
is primary maintainerforthe MiniMyth build 
system, and he runs XEUS, his own develop- 
ment site for XNotesPlus, Ximba Radio and 
other open-source software. He can be 
reached at, and 
his blog is at 

Figure 15. Use the Free Select tool 
(what Photoshop calls the Lasso) to 
draw a quick but not so accurate initial 
selection. Then click on the QuickMask 
box. This gives the area outside the 
selection a reddish tint. Drawing with 
any paint tool on the Canvas window 
now modifies the area with red tint. In 
this way, you paint out (with black) or 
paint in (with white) areas to be 
included in the selection. Click on the 
QuickMask button again to toggle 
back to the marching ants outline of 
the selection. 

Figure 16. Nearly every scanned pho- 
tograph requires some sort of touch- 
up. One of the first things to try is 
Auto-Levels. Although this doesn't fix 
every scanned image, it helps the 
majority of them. Open the Levels 
dialog (Image^Colors^Levels in 1.2 
and Layers^Colors^Levels in 2.0). 
The histogram at the bottom of this 
image shows that the distribution of 
pixels from black to white is more 
uniform than the original (shown in 
the full-sized Levels dialog). 

Figure 1 7. A simple example shows 
this trick best. In a white canvas, 
draw a rectangular selection. Fill this 
with black. Then draw an oval selec- 
tion inside this area and fill it white. 
Choose Filters^>Blur^Gaussian 
Blur (RLE) and blur by 3 pixels in 
both directions. Finally, open the 
Emboss filter (Filters^Distorts^ 
Emboss), and adjust the sliders to 
get the effect you need. 


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boon to space-hungry users. 41 


p.42 extendedPDF | p.44 AbiWord | p.45 Gaim | p.46 Rhythmbox | p.47 Totem Movie Player 

Adding PDF Power to 

extendedPDF is a product for people who need more than the feature that saves documents in PDF format. 


Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) is a popular 
way to exchange documents, and with good reason: 
PDF files are snapshots of your documents that retain all 
the formatting — fonts, layout, graphics and more — of 
the originals. If you're an office worker or small business 
owner who needs to create and distribute electronic 
documents, PDFs are a great way to go. 

One my favorite features of is its 
built-in PDF writer. All you have to do to create a PDF is 
open a document and select Export to PDF from the File 
menu. However, the PDFs that creates 
are plain vanilla. They contain no bookmarks, no links 
and they can grow quite large. 

You can get more control over the PDF files you cre- 
ate with by using an add-on called 
extendedPDF ( 
epdf-home.php). There are two versions of extendedPDF 
for Linux, a free edition and the commercial Universal 
edition, which contains more features. This review 
focuses on the Universal edition. 

As its name implies, extendedPDF enhances 
OpenOffice. org's PDF capabilities. Not only can you create 
PDFs with links and bookmarks, you also can specify the 
finer details, such as the colors for the links, the quality 
of the PDFs being output and more. You even can add 
security to your PDFs. 


Installation is easy. You simply run a command-line 
script, which installs the add-on in 
The installation script also adds an extendedPDF icon 

\w) ^ E] extendedPDF configuration 




File Settings 

PDF Bookmarks PDF Security 

PDF Settings 

[7 Show link boxes 

Link box colour 

PDF open view 


PDF version 

r Translate bookmarks into named destinations 

r Copy notes into the PDF file 

P View PDF when extendedPDF has finished 

Choose colour., 



|eBook: medium quality 


|1.3: Acrobat 4 





Figure 1 . PDF Settings Tab 45 


Although it takes extendedPDF a bit longer to create a 
PDF the quality of the resulting file is significantly better 
than that of one created natively by 

to the toolbar. 

Once it's installed, extendedPDF is 
simple to use. You merely have to 
create and save a document, and then 
click the extendedPDF toolbar icon. 
The add-on scans your document and 
opens the extendedPDF configuration 
dialog box. 

The extendedPDF configuration dia- 
log box consists of five tabs that give 
you considerable control over your out- 
put. Here is where you can specify col- 
ors for the links, the quality of the PDFs 
being output (for on-screen viewing, 
printing, for use as e-books or for pre- 
press work) and whether your PDFs are 
compatible with newer and/or older 
versions of PDF readers. The Security 
tab lets you add a password for opening 
the file, and it can restrict others from 
changing or copying the content in 
the PDF. 

If you've used OpenOffice. org's built-in 
PDF writer, you'll notice that extendedPDF 
takes longer to produce a file. That's 
because the add-on looks at all the head- 

ings and uses the information it gleans 
from them to build a set of bookmarks. 
Adding security and links also adds to the 
generation time. Although it takes 
extendedPDF a bit longer to create a PDF, 
the quality of the resulting file is signifi- 
cantly better than that of one created 
natively by 


The main advantage extendedPDF has is 
the control it gives you over your PDF 
files. It also comes with very good docu- 
mentation that explains in detail how 
to install, configure and use the add-on. 
Depending on the options you use, 
the PDFs created with extendedPDF are 
only a few kilobytes larger than those 
created with OpenOffice. org's built-in 
PDF writer. 


My main gripe about extendedPDF is the 
installer. It's a command-line script. In 
order to get it to install the add-on, you 
might need to edit the installation script 

to point to the directory where is located. This is 
explained in both the manual and the 
installation script. But, unless you're com- 
fortable with editing scripts, you may 
need to get someone to help you out. 
On top of that, the extendedPDF 
Universal edition costs around $38 US 
at the time of this writing. If you're 
adamant about using only free soft- 
ware, you might balk at paying that 
much and stick with OpenOffice. org's 
built-in PDF exporter. 


Overall, though, I've found extendedPDF 
to be well worth its price. The quality of 
the output is excellent, and the options 
add much-needed flexibility to 
OpenOffice. org's PDF capability. 

If you're serious about your PDFs, 
you should give extendedPDF a try. You 
might find it to be an 
add-on you can't do without. ■ 

Scott Nesbitt is a 
journalist and tech- 
nical writer living 
in Toronto, Canada, 
who has con- 
tributed articles, 
essays and reviews 
to more than 30 
publications. You 
may have even 
heard of one or 
two of them. 
Although he works 
with a lot of tech- 
nology, Scott 
doesn't own a PDA 
(but he recently got 
a cell phone), nor 
does he have a car, 
any pets or a single 
pair of khakis. 43 



In the last issue of TUX, we took some time 
to go through a powerful and fast word 
processor called KWord, distributed as part 
of the KOffice suite. 

This issue, we look at AbiWord, a very 
smooth and polished word processing appli- 
cation that performs remarkably well on 
Linux, but also on Mac OS X and even 
Microsoft Windows. 

Although AbiWord is not the only cross- 
platform word processor (there's also, for example), it features 
improved performance with much shorter 
load times and a much higher degree of 

Recent releases of the application show 
how much it has evolved since its early days. 



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The clean and polished user interface, the 
much-needed support for Microsoft Office 
and document formats, and 
the brilliant integration of document history 
and revision control make AbiWord a remark- 
able desktop application, whether for per- 
sonal or corporate use. 

Usability-wise, AbiWord offers all the 
features we have come to rely on in a word 
processor over the years, such as the usual 
shortcuts (Ctrl-B for bold, Ctrl-I for italic and 
Ctrl-U for underline), the ability to insert 
files (even from different formats) and HTML 
export (although I could not find a PDF 
export function). 

AbiWord also extends the traditional 
model by adding some key features that are 
uncommon in similar applications, such as 
the mail-merge system that allows you to 
use a document template and a data source 
(such as a database or CSV 
files) to automate the process 
of creating customized tem- 
plate-based documents in 
large numbers. 

Note that some of the ideas 
for the next major release of 
the project indicate that a lot 
of additional features and 
enhancements are currently 
being worked on by the devel- 
opment team, and the weekly 
project news is a good testa- 
ment of the development 
activity around the projects 


v ■ 

Name: Abiworddoc 

Save in folder: « I ux - 'I 

Automatically Detected 

t- Browse for other folders 
Save file as type: 

AbiWord (.abw) 

AbiWord Template {.awt) 

Microsoft Word (.doc) 

HTML/XHTML (.litml) 

Multipart HTML (.mm) 

Hieh lexthormat(.rtt) 

Rinh Text Format for old apps ( rtf) 

Text {.txt : .text) 


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is part of the 

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XSL-FO (Jo) 

WML (.wml) 

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PaEmDoc (_pdb) 

OpenGffice Writer (.sxw) 

platform word 

UNIX(tm) Nroff/ManuaJ format (.nroff) 


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Mir (.mif) 
LaTeX (.latex) 

KWord (.kwd) 

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clean and 
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Newsgroup Formatted Text (.nws) 

Outlook Express Email (.9 ml) 

DocBook (dbk) 

Coquille (.coq) 

BZ2 AbiWord (.bzabw) 

Applix Words (aw) 

Abiword in Action 

AbiWord allows you to save your documents in any of the 
industry-standard formats. 

License: GNU General Public License (GPL) 

Price: Free 

Web Site: 

-Xavier Spriet 



Instant messaging has become one of 
the most popular activities on the 
Web these past few years. Several 
networks have emerged, offering a 
standard set of features as well as 
some network-specific additions, in 
an attempt to attract a larger share of 
this booming market. 

The number of existing markets pro- 
vides a healthy level of competition, 
keeping companies such as Microsoft, 
AOL or ICQ hard at work to provide 
users with the best possible experience, 
but it also adds a layer of complexity 
for users as they need to sign up for 
accounts with all these providers and 
then use proprietary clients for each of 
these networks. 

The Gaim Project is a multiprotocol 
IM client that allows users to join and 
use a plethora of networks, such as 
MSN, ICQ, AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! and 
many more, through one coherent 

Gaim can be used on your GNOME 
desktop, but also on KDE and even 
Microsoft Windows, so you can use 
the client on virtually any environ- 
ment. Gaim also integrates itself into 
your taskbar and provides a configu- 
ration dialog that allows you to cus- 
tomize the behavior of the application 

Additionally, Gaim supports an 

advanced plugin system that allows 
developers to provide additional func- 
tionality as they see fit. Many plugins 
are available, such as Guifications, that 
allows Gaim to display notifications on 
the corner of the screen to inform you 
that someone is typing a message or 
that someone just logged on (you even 
can configure which events should 
trigger a notification). 

The Gaim developers also have 
become experts in keeping up with 
changes in the different networks, 
thus providing a very reliable product 
to their users. 

On a usability point of view, Gaim 
provides a smooth interface that, 
although not very customizable, offers 
features such as the ability to drag and 
drop contacts into categories, groups or 
messages; modify your account informa- 
tion; join chat-rooms; or create buddy 
pounces, a system that performs custom 
operations when a certain member of 
your friends list changes status (it 
sends a message when a particular 
user logs on).a 

— Xavier Spriet 

License: GNU General Public License 


Price: Free 

Web Site: 

dMc License 


- n x 

Online Auto-login Protocol 




Login Options 

Screen Name: 

Modify Q Delete 

C-y GroupWise 

- IRC 

, Jabber 

Remember | * MSN 

Auto-login ^ p 
© Yahoo 

User Options z Zephyr 

New mail notifications 

Buddy icon: foQ pen 

v Show more options 

1 Remove 

X Cancel 

3 Save 

X Close 

You can select from any protocol when 
creating your account. 




Gaim integrates in the GNOME notification area. 


■7°C H5 


Rhythm box 

With digital distribution of music through the 
Internet becoming more convenient and popu- 
lar by the day, simple playlists just don't quite 
cut it anymore. This is precisely the reason why 
Apple's brilliant iTunes software has attracted so 
many users by offering a clever way to manage 
large playlists. 

Rhythmbox is a music library manager and 
player for the GNOME desktop environment 
(although it does work under KDE as well) that 
provides similar functionality by organizing 
your playlist by authors or albums and offering 
fast search functionality. 

The application is simple to use and visually 
appealing, and it allows users to play and organ- 
ize large playlists any way they want, including 
on-line radio stations. 

This is no small undertaking considering the 
massive size of some playlists featuring thousands 
of songs, all in different formats and with differ- 
ent naming conventions. 

Rhythmbox also offers users the ability to rate 
specific music files, and this rating can be used to 
sort songs in order to obtain a listing of your 
favourite music files across an entire filesystem. 

The user interface is intuitive, and none of the 
important features seem to be missing (taskbar 
integration, mini-mode, multimedia key control 
and so on). All these factors contribute to making 
Rhythmbox a serious player in the modern digital 
music world. 

Another great advantage Rhythmbox has over 
similar products is its ability to play a wide array of 

Managing a Large Playlist with Rhythmbox 

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Music £dli Y«w Qontrol Uefp 
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^ Spy* Taskbar Integration 

Rhythmbox in Small Display Mode 

audio formats, through its use of the GStreamer 
framework, a state-of-the-art media-handling 
development platform. 

Although the application currently lacks the 
ability to edit ID3 Tags, the Rhythmbox FAQ on 
the project's Web site indicates that this fea- 
ture will be available in future releases, and it 
recommends the use of the EasyTag product to 
perform this operation ( 

It also is worth mentioning that Rhythmbox sup- 
ports many playlist formats, which makes importing 
playlists from other applications quite trivial.™ 

— Xavier Spriet 

Dancc-tdNJ Properties 

Basic Details 
File name: 




Laal ployed: 
Play count: 

Automatically rale: 

□1 Dancetariaogg 



/usr/locaL ,1 tunes'MP3Z''lndochine/Daricetaria 

20(M-11-[}1 15:05 



X Close 

+ Back + Eorward 

ID3 Details Dialog H-B 


Totem Movie Player 

In our review of the Rhythmbox music 
library management system, we men- 
tioned that the underlying platform 
for media playback was GStreamer 
and that this was a key feature of the 

Totem Movie Player is a complete 
media player that also relies on the 
GStreamer framework as well as the 
Xine library to play audio and video in a 
wide array of formats and encodings. 

On the major features front, Totem 
offers a simple interface for video or 
audio playback, supports network 
audio and video streaming media as 
well as a plethora of file formats, 
audio vizualisation, CD and DVD 
playback (with DVD navigation), 
TV-Out support, LIRC for infra-red 
remote-controls and full integration 
to your GNOME desktop. 

It also is worth noting that the latest 
release of Totem offers support for propri- 
etary plugins, which means that plugins 
should start to appear shortly. 

Although Totem uses Xine and 
Gstreamer as back ends, it offers a 
much more visually appealing and 
modern front end than the official Xine 
user interface, while benefiting from 

the excellent reliability and quality of 
both platforms. 

The end-user documentation of the 
application is pretty straightforward and 
does a good job of highlighting most 
major features without going into too 
much detail. 

For the last few major releases of the 
GNOME desktop environment, Totem 
has been the default video player, so it 
is very likely already installed on your 
Linux distribution. Just in case though, 
the author has been thoughtful enough 
to provide binary packages for most 
major Linux distributions out there, 
and chances are that your distribution 
probably provides its own binary 
package for Totem. ■ 

— Xavier Spriet 

License: GNU General Public License 

Price: Free 

Web Site: 

The Offspring - The Kids Aren't Alright 


I 1 


31 « 


Playing 0.40/3:00 

Totem's Audio Visualization 

Totem Video Playback |H-7| 


The Light and Dark Side of Linux Multimedia 

Linux is taking over the world when it comes to rendering 3-D graphics for today's movies. That translates to good 
news for the Linux desktop user, but it would be better news if only media companies would get a clue about theft. 


What do the following relatively recent movies have in com- 
mon? The Incredibles, Shrek, Shrek 2, Lord of the Rings, Harry 
Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Titanic, Ice Age, Spawn, Spirit, 
Stallion of the Cimarron, Sphere, Peter Pan, Bunny, Barbie of 
Swan Lake, Joe Fly & Sanchez, Los Gringos and The Night of the 
Headless Horsemenl These are just some of the most notable 
movies that include computer animation rendered using Linux. 
In some cases, the movies were rendered entirely on Linux. 

There are several reasons why Linux is now essentially the de 
facto standard platform for rendering computer graphics. First, 
Dreamworks, the company that turns out one blockbuster hit 
after another, is using Linux almost exclusively for its back-end 
render farm. The last I heard, Dreamworks has Linux running on 
2,000 CPUs, but that has likely increased. Second, the Linux ver- 
sion of Alias' Maya, one of the most advanced 3-D graphics 
tools, has matured on Linux during the past few years. Third, 
even more software is being released for Linux. About a year 
ago, Amazon Paint System with OpenGL 3D Paint was released 
for Linux. This popular software has been used in Monsters Inc, 
The Matrix, The Grinch and others. 

The fourth point is obvious. Linux is free. But that wasn't 
always enough. One of the biggest motives for the large-scale 
commitments to Linux is the fact that hardware — especially 

graphics hardware — is far less expensive than it used to be, 
thanks in great part to NVIDIA. When companies like 
Dreamworks had to spend thousands of dollars for each 
machine or graphics card, the fact that Linux was free didn't 
do much to offset the cost of building a large-scale rendering 
farm, especially if Dreamworks had to pay for programmers 
to adapt existing software to run on Linux. Today, however, 
both Linux and hardware are so cheap that a thousand-node 
Linux rendering cluster is a fraction of the cost of any 
competing solution. 


By now, you must be wondering why this should be important 
to you, the desktop Linux user. Call it a long shot, but I'm 
guessing not many of you have $500,000 to spend on a profes- 
sional rendering cluster, no matter how impressed you may be 
that these clusters deliver better performance for 20% or less of 
the cost of previous systems. 

Aside from all of the media exposure and increased credi- 
bility this trend gives Linux, there are other benefits that spill 
over to desktop users. Movie studios learned quickly that 
decreasing hardware prices and free Linux combine to lower 
the overall cost of producing better animation. This puts *-4S 

the last word 

pressure on NVIDIA and its competi- 
tors to deliver better quality products 
at lower prices to the studios. 
Yesterday's professional graphics 
cards quickly become tomorrow's 
consumer graphics cards. More 
important, these cards were 
designed to run with Linux, so the 
hardware companies can no longer 
view Linux as an afterthought when 
it comes to drivers. 


A couple years back, Sony declared 
that Linux would be the standard 
platform for all future multimedia 
devices. As an aside, I would love to 
have seen the expression on the 
faces of the folks at TiVo when they 
read that press release. TiVo is the 
company that revolutionized the way 
we watch television when it pio- 
neered digital video recorders that 
let you pause, play back and record 
programs more easily than anyone 
thought possible. And TiVo did it all 
with Linux long before Sony jumped 
in the game. 

Regardless, Sony and its competi- 
tors (and to a lesser extent, TiVo) are 
more or less in the position to 
endorse digital rights management. 

So anything they bring to the table 
as far as Linux is concerned doesn't 
improve the current absurd patent 
and legal situation faced by Linux 
desktop users. We still need groups 
like the Penguin Liberation Front 
(PLF) to provide us with the arguably 
illegal decoding tools to do unarguably 
ethical things like watch a DVD on a 
Linux desktop. 

What irks my goat most about 
this situation (if you'll pardon the 
mixed metaphor) is that the problem 
of digital multimedia theft has little 
or nothing to do with things like 
decryption software provided by 
underground organizations like the 
PLF. DVD decryption is a minor step 
in the process of shrinking a DVD to 
a size that is easier to download 
from a peer-to-peer sharing network 
like Gnutella, which is where the 
theft takes place. 

I am against theft of copyrighted 
materials that cannot be justified by 
fair use. But the solutions media 
providers are exploring are doing 
more damage to their businesses 
than good. The DVD issue is a bit 
complex and deserves its own col- 
umn, so I'll save that topic for the 
future. But I think I can make at least 

one point by citing an example that 
involves MP3 files and music. 

I recently purchased a CD player 
for my daughter that plays regular 
CDs or custom-made CDs with MP3 
files organized in directories for easy 
navigation. I've been going through a 
nostalgia phase lately where I've 
wanted to listen to some old jazz, 
Beatles and Beach Boys songs. So I 
figured I'd pick up some cheap oldie 
CDs and make an MP3 CD of my 
favorite oldies. To my shock, I found 
that the stores still sell these ancient 
relics as individual albums in CD form 
for $1 5 each, more or less. I not only 
refused to buy any of these CDs, I 
spitefully downloaded a few of the 
MP3 files I wanted based on fair use, 
because I owned the vinyl records. 

Now, if media companies crammed 
MP3 files of the complete works of 
any baby-boomer artist onto a few 
CDs and sold the sets for $20 each, I'd 
buy them in a downbeat. I bet many 
of you would too. That's matching 
price with value, which inhibits theft. 

The bottom line is that theft 
didn't start with DVDs, it didn't 
start with Linux, and it only will 
get worse with greed-driven digital 
rights management. ■ 

TUX Editor in Chief 
Nicholas Petreley is 
an author, consult- 
ant, programmer, 
columnist and Linux 
analyst for Evans 
Data Corp. 43 


TUX magazii 

TUX'\s the first and only magazine for 
the new Linux user. In each digital edi- 
tion of TUX, we explore every facet of 
the modern Linux desktop, providing a 
new breed of Linux user with the tools 
and information to make their Linux 
desktop experience complete. 

A new breed of Linux user has emerged, 
the Linux consumer. TUX delivers to this 
powerful and rapidly growing economic 
force by offerring many advertising 
opportunities for both its digital edition 
and its web site. 


June 2005 


Is yours a house (or office) 
divided? With Linux PCs here 
and Windows PCs there? In the 
June 2005 issue, TUX shows 
you all you need to know to 
share files and folders between 
these different systems. We'll 
also look at tools that make 
running Windows on Linux (and 
vice versa) easy. 

July 2005 

The MONEY Issue 

If money makes the world go 
'round, this is a well rounded 
issue of TUX as we explore finan- 
cial applications in the Linux 
world. We'll cover home finance 
programs that provide simple 
cheque book functions as well as 
those that do it all. Join us as we 
explore expense trackers, stock 
tickers, and business-ready 
accounting software. Ka-Ching! 

August 2005 


TUX goes back to school in the 
August 2005 issue. Linux systems 
are a great solution for cash 
strapped schools, but they offer 
much more than inexpensive, 
stable, and secure systems. Kids 
will find software to challenge their 
minds and have fun doing it. From 
Linux at school, to educational 
programs, to educational games, 
it's Linux for kids of all ages. 

September 2005 
The SWITCH Issue 

Finally, it's time to help those in 
need. Yes, we're talking about 
people running something 
other than Linux — those poor 
unfortunate souls who deal 
with adware, spyware, and 
system crashes every day of 
their lives. TUX will look at great 
Linux business tools, live Linux 
CDs (to introduce your friends 
and family), and transitional 
applications (Linux programs 
that are available for Windows) 

so that even if they continue to 
run something else, they can at 
least get some of the benefits 
of Linux. 

October 2005 


Whatever happened to computers 
making our lives easier and giving 
us more free time? Maybe it's 
because they weren't running 
Linux. This October 2005, TUX 
will show you how to put your 
Linux system to work while you 
sleep! Let Linux take care of 
business and watch over things 
while you tend to other, more 
important things. In this issue, 
TUX will look at home security, 
webcams and video surveillance, 
maybe even a robot or two. 

November 2005 



As the end of 2005 approaches, 
talk is hot again and Linux makes 
it easy. The year 2000 has come 
and gone, but picture phones are 

finally here, instant messaging is 
everywhere, free long distance 
is a reality, and everybody is 
reaching out and touching 
somebody somewhere. Get into 
the instant messaging, Voice 
Over IP, text messaging, and just 
plain talking action in the 
November 2005 issue of TUX. 

December 2005 


It's December 2005 and people 
are on the move, whether to visit 
family for the holidays or jetting 
off to somewhere warmer. Either 
way, you'll need to take your 
Linux computer along. Don't 
have one yet? Not sure of the 
tools you'll need? Let TUX show 
you the best tools for Linux 
notebooks, network applications, 
WiFi, Bluetooth, and everything 
else you need to stay connected 
when you are away from home. 
We'll take a close look at personal 
digital assistants, cell phones, 
and much more when TUX hits 
the road. 




Managing the Digital 
Photo Al Iju ! i 1 with digiKarr 


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Contact the TUX team 
today to have a media kit 
sent to you. E-mail or 
call 206-782-7733 ext.4